Studies in older adults have found a link between walking speed and executive function (mental skills that help people plan, organize and complete tasks). The brain’s frontal cortex is known to control gait in older adults. In a study published online on January 30 in NeuroImage, Mark Wagshul, Ph.D.,Roee Holtzer, Ph.D.,and colleagues investigated whether changes in frontal-cortex structure influence its activation during walking. In a study of healthy older adults using MRI and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (a technique that can measure blood flow in the brain during walking), they found a clear link between increased brain activation during walking (a known risk for falls) and structural changes in the brain. During complex walking tasks, individuals with smaller frontal cortices required greater activation compared with individuals with larger frontal cortices, possibly an indication of inefficient brain utilization. The researchers hope to use similar measures to predict the risk of falling in older adults. Dr. Wagshul is an associate professor of radiology and is an assistant professor of physiology & biophysics at Einstein. Dr. Holtzer is a professor in the Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology at Einstein.
Posted on: Monday, March 25, 2019