Brain structure covariance associated with gait control in aging

Gilles Allali, Maxime Montembeault, Simona M. Brambati, Louis Bherer, Helena M. Blumen, Cyrille P. Launay, Teresa Liu-Ambrose, Jorunn L. Helbostad, Joe Verghese, Olivier Beauchet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background: Structural and functional brain imaging methods have identified age-related changes in brain structures involved in gait control. This cross-sectional study aims to investigate gray matter networks associated with gait control in aging using structural covariance analysis. Methods: Walking speed were measured in 326 nondemented older community-dwellers (age 71.3 ± 4.5; 41.7% female) under three different walking conditions: normal walking and two challenging tasks: motor (ie, fast speed) and an attention-demanding dual task (ie, backward counting). Results: Three main individual gray matter regions were positively correlated with walking speed (ie, slower walking speed was associated with lower brain volumes): right thalamus, right caudate nucleus, and left middle frontal gyrus for normal walking, rapid walking, and dual-task walking condition, respectively. The structural covariance analysis revealed that prefrontal regions were part of the networks associated with every walking condition; the right caudate was associated specifically with the hippocampus, amygdala and insula for the rapid walking condition, and the left middle frontal gyrus with a network involving the cuneus for the dual-task condition. Conclusion: Our results suggest that brain networks associated with gait control vary according to walking speed and depend on each walking condition. Gait control in aging involved a distributed network including regions for emotional control that are recruited in challenging walking conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)705-713
Number of pages9
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • Aging
  • Anatomical structural covariance
  • Gait
  • Motor control
  • Neuroimaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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