Differential effects and discriminative validity of motor and cognitive tasks varying in difficulty on cognitive–motor interference in persons with multiple sclerosis

Renee Veldkamp*, Alon Kalron, Ilse Baert, Paivi Hämäläinen, Andrea Tacchino, Mieke D’hooge, Xavier Giffroy, Fanny Van Geel, Joke Raats, Karin Coninx, Bart Van Wijmeersch, Peter Feys

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Cognitive–motor interference (CMI) has been well recognized in persons with multiple sclerosis (pwMS); however, there are limited data on effects of task difficulty. Objective: Examine (1) the effects of motor and cognitive tasks varying in difficulty on the magnitude of CMI and (2) the discriminative validity of CMI between pwMS and healthy controls (HC). Methods: Nine cognitive–motor dual-task (DT) conditions (combinations of three cognitive and three walking tasks) were examined. Outcome measures were DT-performance and dual-task cost (DTC) of gait parameters and correct answers. Task differences and overall group-effects were analysed by mixed model analysis, plus the Wilcoxon signed-rank tests or multivariate analysis of variances (MANOVAs), respectively. Results: Task effects were examined in 82 pwMS (Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS): 3.3 ± 1.0) and discriminative validity in a subsample (35 pwMS and 33 HC). Motor-DTC and DT-performance were affected by difficulty of both the cognitive task (p < 0.001) and the walking condition (p ⩽ 0.002), while cognitive-DTC only varied between cognitive tasks with a large difference in difficulty (p ⩽ 0.005) and not between walking conditions (p ⩾ 0.125). None of the DTCs differed between groups. Conclusion: CMI, and especially motor performance, is affected by difficulty of the DT. Although pwMS performed worse on the tasks than HC, none of the DT-conditions showed a discriminative DTC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1924-1938
Number of pages15
JournalMultiple Sclerosis Journal
Volume27
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Keywords

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • cognitive–motor interference
  • discriminative validity
  • dual tasking
  • task effects
  • walking

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