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Differential behavioral and neural effects of physical and mental fatigue on modality-specific task interference in cognitive-postural dual task situations in young and old adults (2015-2018; 2018-2021)


Urs Granacher

Prof. Dr. Urs Granacher                  

Principal Investigator

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Stephan Heinzel

Prof. Dr. Stephan Heinzel 

Principal Investigator

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Michael Rapp

Prof. Dr. Michael A. Rapp

Principal Investigator

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Christine Stelzel

Prof. Dr. Christine Stelzel

Principal Investigator

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Marie Mückstein

PhD candidate

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Dr. Markus Brahms

Post-doctoral Fellow

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Former team members

Marius Dettmer

Marius Dettmer                          

Project Collaborator 

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Hannah Bohle

Dr. Hannah Bohle

Post-doctoral Fellow

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 Volker Reisner

Volker Reisner 

Research Fellow 

(maternity cover for H. Bohle)

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This MoMaPC – STUDY is done in collaboration with other SPP members: Prof. Dr. Otmar Bock (Köln), Prof. Dr. Iring Koch (Aachen), and Prof. Dr. Claudia Voelcker-Rehage (Chemnitz), as well as in close collaboration with Prof. Dr. Reinhold Kliegl (Potsdam).


Abstract (2018-2021)

The overall objective of this project is to better understand mechanisms of age-related decrements in dual-task performance between postural control and working memory. We will specifically disentangle age-related differences in domain-specific resource limitations, as operationalized by mental versus physical fatigue, from specific central mapping-related crosstalk in modality incompatible compared to modality compatible stimulus-response mappings within cognitive-motor dual-task performance. For this purpose, two experiments will be conducted in a biomechanics laboratory and in an fMRI facility. Fatigue protocols will be similar in both experiments. The physical fatigue protocol comprises old (65-75 years) and young (20-30 years) adults to perform a repeated sit-to-stand task until failure. While the old adults will be asked to perform the fatigue protocol without any extra load, the young adults will receive an adjustable weighted vest with a load that corresponds to 30% of their individual body mass. The mental fatigue protocol affords young and old subjects to complete a variant of the Attentional Network Test. An administration time of 35 minutes is expected to induce selective effects in executive attention. Pre, post fatigue and during recovery, experiment 1 includes standing on a force plate and performing postural single tasks, cognitive-postural dual tasks, and cognitive-cognitive postural triple tasks. Postural sway (i.e., centre of pressure displacements), lower limb muscle activity using surface electromyography and brain activity using electroencephalography will be monitored. In all conditions, the cognitive task will include a spatial one-back working memory task (i.e., cognitive single or cognitive dual-task), with either modality compatible or modality incompatible input-output modality pairings. During lying position in the MRI scanner, participants will perform single and dual one-back tasks.

Abstract (2015-2018)

Aging is associated with marked decrements in both postural control and working memory capacity as well as dual-task performance, i.e., the concurrent performance of two tasks. Dual-task decrements in balance and working memory have ample significance for everyday activities and critical outcomes such as falls. At the same time, there is increasing evidence that working memory shows significant training-induced plasticity in old adults, and several intervention studies in motor-cognitive dual-tasks have indicated that dual-task performance can be improved by practice. However, the underlying mechanisms and neural correlates of both age-related decrements in dual-task performance between postural control and working memory, as well as effects of training on motor-cognitive dual-task performance are poorly understood. Extant theories of dual-task processes and empirical research on the neural mechanisms underlying dual-task interference indicate that both interference related to the compatibility of stimulus and response modalities within working memory (in that e.g., visual stimuli facilitate motor responses) as well as limited central capacities within working memory may modulate dual-task performance. The overall objective of this project is to better understand mechanisms of such age-related decrements in dual-task performance between postural control and working memory. Using a behavioral and a neurophysiological approach, we will specifically disentangle effects of compatible versus incompatible stimulus-response mappings within working memory on dual-task performance from effects of the degree of central interference of these working memory tasks with postural control. Furthermore, within old adults, we will explore effects of dual-task training as a function of stimulus-response mappings and the degree of central processing constraints for upright posture and will be able to relate individual differences in cross-sectional behavior and associated neural changes. This approach will allow us to differentially test effects of stimulus-response and central processing modality and hence allow us to directly assess the effects predicted by a common-coding account versus the effects of central interference as predicted by central processing theories. We will test 30 young and 40 older adults in dual-task paradigms involving working memory and postural control and will investigate neural activation patterns associated with working memory capacity (central processing constraints) and stimulus-response modality mappings. We will then train dual-task performance in 60 older adults in either compatible or incompatible modality mappings. Our results will elucidate underlying mechanisms of decline in both working memory capacity and in dual-task performance involving postural control, and will inform both theoretical accounts of modality compatibility as well as future training and falls prevention studies in older adults.


Project Output


Brahms, M., Heinzel, S., Rapp, M., Mückstein, M., Hortobágyi, T., Stelzel, C., & Granacher, U. (2022). The acute effects of mental fatigue on balance performance in healthy young and older adults - A systematic review and meta-analysis. Acta Psychol (Amst), 225, 103540.

Chaabene, H., Prieske, O., Herz, M., Moran, J., Höhne, J., Kliegl, R., ... & Granacher, U. (2021). Home-based exercise programmes improve physical fitness of healthy older adults: A PRISMA-compliant systematic review and meta-analysis with relevance for COVID-19. Ageing Research Reviews, 101265.

Brahms, C. M., Hortobágyi, T., Kressig, R. W., & Granacher, U. (2021). The Interaction between Mobility Status and Exercise Specificity in Older Adults. Exercise and sport sciences reviews, 49(1), 15-22.

Hortobágyi, T., Granacher, U., Fernandez-Del-Olmo, M., Howatson, G., Manca, A., Deriu, F., . . . Colomer-Poveda, D. (2021). Functional relevance of resistance training-induced neuroplasticity in health and disease. Neurosci Biobehav Rev, 122, 79-91.

Liu, S., Kaufmann, C., Labadie, C., Ströhle, A., Kuschpel, M. S., Garbusow, M., . . . Heinzel, S. (2019). Short-term effects of video gaming on brain response during working memory performance. PLoS One, 14(10), e0223666.

Bohle, H., Rimpel, J., Schauenburg, G., Gebel, A., Stelzel, C., Heinzel, S., ... & Granacher, U. (2019). Behavioral and neural correlates of cognitive-motor interference during multitasking in young and old adults. Neural plasticity, 2019.

Hortobágyi, T., Uematsu, A., Sanders, L., Kliegl, R., Tollár, J., Moraes, R., & Granacher, U. (2019). Beam Walking to Assess Dynamic Balance in Health and Disease: A Protocol for the "BEAM" Multicenter Observational Study. Gerontology, 65(4), 332-339.

Lüder, B., Kiss, R., & Granacher, U. (2018). Single-and Dual-Task Balance Training Are Equally Effective in Youth. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 912.

Stelzel, C., Bohle, H., Schauenburg, G., Walter, H., Granacher, U., Rapp, M. A., & Heinzel, S. (2018). Contribution of the Lateral Prefrontal Cortex to Cognitive-Postural Multitasking. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 1075

Heinzel, S, Rimpel, J, Stelzel, C., & Rapp, M.A. (2017). Transfer effects to a multimodal dual-task after working memory training and associated neural correlates in older adults. Front Hum Neurosciience, 11, 85. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00085.

Heinzel, S., Lorenz, R. C., Duong, Q.-L., Rapp, M. A., & Deserno, L. (2017). Prefrontal-parietal effective connectivity during working memory in older adults. Neurobiology of Aging, 57, 18–27.doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2017.05.005.

Stelzel, C*., Schauenburg, G.*, Rapp, M. A., Heinzel, S* ., & Granacher, U.* (2017). Age-Related Interferencebetween the Selection of Input-Output Modality Mappings and Postural Control-a Pilot Study. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 613. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00613 * equal contribution *shared senior authorship.

Heinzel, S., Lorenz, R. C., Pelz, P., Heinz, A., Walter, H., Kathmann, N., Rapp, M.A*., & Stelzel, C*. (2016). Neural correlates of training and transfer effects in working memory in older adults. NeuroImage, 134, 236-249. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.03.068  *equal contribution.

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