Walking While Talking: Effect of Task Prioritization in the Elderly

Joe Verghese, Gail Kuslansky, Roee Holtzer, Mindy Katz, Xiaonan Xue, Herman Buschke, Marco Pahor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

185 Scopus citations


Verghese J, Kuslansky G, Holtzer R, Katz M, Xue X, Buschke H, Pahor M. Walking while talking: effect of task prioritization in the elderly. Objective: To examine the effect of 2 instructions on the same walking while talking (WWT) task on task prioritization by nondisabled subjects. Design: Cross-sectional survey with within subject comparisons. Setting: Community-based sample. Participants: Older adults (N=189; mean age, 80.2±4.9y), who did not meet criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition, for dementia and were able to independently perform activities of daily living. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: Verbal and gait measures on the same WWT task with 2 different instructions: paying attention to both talking and walking (WWT-C) and paying attention only to talking (WWT-T). Results: Task prioritization effects were seen on walking but not on talking. Compared with their baseline normal walking velocity (without talking), subjects slowed down more on WWT-T (median change, 28.3%) than WWT-C (median change, 26.4%). Comparing the 2 WWT conditions, velocity and cadence was slower during WWT-T compared with WWT-C, with longer stride length. Verbal output was not significantly different on the 2 conditions. Conclusions: Changing instructions while maintaining the same cognitive and motor tasks on WWT in older adults result in task prioritization effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-53
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Attention
  • Elderly
  • Rehabilitation
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Walking While Talking: Effect of Task Prioritization in the Elderly'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this