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The Role of Executive Function in 400m Walk Performance

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The Role of Executive Function in 400m Walk Performance
Lucas, Alexander Russell de Neufville
Alexander Russell de Neufville Lucas THE ROLE OF EXECUTIVE FUNCTION IN 400M WALK PERFORMANCE Thesis under the direction of Jeffrey A Katula, Ph.D., Department of Health and Exercise Science. Mobility disability (MD) is a critical aspect of an older individual’s capacity for independent living. Gait speed (GS) is a single measure used to quantify MD as well as being a powerful predictor of outcomes related to falls, mortality, hospitalization, CVD and disability. Musculo-skeletal factors, neurological factors and chronic disease all predict the decline in GS with age, what is not clear is the role of executive function (EF) in the relationship between cognition and gait speed change with time. Previous research uses measures of gait speed with low ecological validity such as a four meter walk at usual pace and additionally research tends to measure EF with single tests of neurocognitive function in an aconceptual manner. Therefore the purpose of this study was to determine whether improved EF as measured by a number of neurocognitive tests, led to an improved gait speed over a socially relevant distance such as 400m. Participants were randomized into one of four treatment groups, receiving physical activity (PA), cognitive training (CT), a combination (CT/PA) or healthy aging education (HAE) over a 4 month period. A main effects analysis showed that interventions receiving PA (PA and CT/PA) saw changes in GS with time, (0.059m/s). The only measure of EF which showed a relationship with GS change was the 2-back test (β = 0.2812, p < 0.05), a measure of working memory (WM). This research indicates that EF processes (WM) are important for persons whilst walking over a distance of 400m. The cognitive demands related to maintaining GS over a quarter mile may be more important for individuals at risk for mobility disability. Future studies should further explore the direction of these relationships and how they may be enhanced with age, in populations at risk for cognitive and functional decline.
Executive Function
400m walk
Marsh, Anthony (committee chair)
Jennings, Janine (committee member)
Katula, Jeffrey (committee member)
2010-05-07T20:44:45Z (accessioned)
2010-06-18T18:58:57Z (accessioned)
2010-05-07T20:44:45Z (available)
2010-06-18T18:58:57Z (available)
2010-05-07T20:44:45Z (issued)
Health & Exercise Science (discipline)
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/14811 (uri)
en_US (iso)
Wake Forest University
Release the entire work for access only to the Wake Forest University system for one year from the date below. After one year, release the entire work for access worldwide. (accessRights)

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