HALO post-doctoral fellow Dr. Shikha Saxena is lead author on a paper, “A cross-sectional analysis on the effects of age on dual tasking in typically developing children,” that was recently published in Psychological Research. Citation details and a summary of the paper are below.
Saxena S, Majnemer A, Li K, Beauchamp M, Gagnon I. A cross-sectional analysis on the effects of age on dual tasking in typically developing children. Psychol Res. 2018 Dec 1. doi: 10.1007/s00426-018-1126-0.
Dual tasking is an integral part of everyday activities for children. Therefore, as with the other aspects of child development-motor, cognitive, perceptual, psychological, and behavioral-it is important to understand the maturation process of dual-tasking skills in children. Characterizing age-related changes in children’s dual-task performance has been problematic, because differences in dual-tasking ability are confounded by age differences in abilities in the relevant single-task performances. The effect of age on dual-tasking ability was examined in 221 typically developing children aged 5-8 years using two motor-cognitive dual-task paradigms: walking while performing an n-back cognitive task, and drawing a trail while performing an n-back cognitive task. The test-retest reliability of the dual-task paradigm was examined by re-assessing 50 participants after 1 month. Individual differences in single-task performance were controlled for, so that any age differences in dual-task costs could not be attributed to differences in single-task performance. There were no age-related differences in dual-task cost of any task (p > 0.05). However, the dual-task cost of trail-making was significantly greater than the dual-task cost of walking when performed under similar cognitive loads (p < 0.0001). The intra-class correlation coefficient ranged from 0.71 to 0.92 for all dual-task performances. The results suggest that previously reported age differences in dual-task costs in young children may have been driven by developmental differences in single-task ability, and that general task coordination ability is comparable in children 5-8 years of age.