Prefrontal Cortex Activation while Walking under Dual-Task Conditions in Stroke


Background. Walking while performing another task (eg, talking) is challenging for many stroke survivors, yet its neural basis are not fully understood. Objective. To investigate prefrontal cortex activation and its relationship to gait measures while walking under single-task (ST) and dual-task (DT) conditions (ie, walking while simultaneously performing a cognitive task) in stroke survivors. Methods. We acquired near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) data from the prefrontal cortex during treadmill walking in ST and DT conditions in chronic stroke survivors and healthy controls. We also acquired functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and NIRS during simulated walking under these conditions. Results. NIRS revealed increased oxygenated hemoglobin concentration in DT-walking compared with ST-walking for both groups. For simulated walking, NIRS showed a significant effect of group and group × task, being greater on both occasions, in stroke survivors. A greater increase in brain activation observed from ST to DT walking/ simulated walking was related to a greater change in motor performance in stroke survivors. fMRI revealed increased activity during DT relative to ST conditions in stroke patients in areas including the inferior temporal gyri, superior frontal gyri and cingulate gyri bilaterally, and the right precentral gyrus. The DT-related increase in fMRI activity correlated with DT-related change in behavior in stroke participants in the bilateral inferior temporal gyrus, left cingulate gyrus, and left frontal pole. Conclusion. Our results provide novel evidence that enhanced brain activity changes relate to dual task motor decrements.

Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair