The effects of dual tasking on gait synchronization during over-ground side-by-side walking

Ari Z. Zivotofsky*, Hagar Bernad-Elazari, Pnina Grossman, Jeffrey M. Hausdorff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent studies have shown that gait synchronization during natural walking is not merely anecdotal, but it is a repeatable phenomenon that is quantifiable and is apparently related to available sensory feedback modalities. However, the mechanisms underlying this phase-locking of gait have only recently begun to be investigated. For example, it is not known what role, if any, attention plays. We employed a dual tasking paradigm in order to investigate the role attention plays in gait synchronization. Sixteen pairs of subjects walked under six conditions that manipulated the available sensory feedback and the degree of difficulty of the dual task, i.e., the attention. Movement was quantified using a trunk-mounted tri-axial accelerometer. A gait synchronization index (GSI) was calculated in order to quantify the degree of synchronization of the gait pattern. A simple dual task resulted in an increased level of synchronization, whereas a more complex dual task lead to a reduction in synchronization. Handholding increased synchronization, compared to the same attention condition without handholding. These results indicate that in order for two walkers to synchronize, some level of attention is apparently required, such that a relatively complex dual task utilizes enough attentional resources to reduce the occurrence of synchronization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-29
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Movement Science
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Dual tasking
  • Gait
  • Human
  • Stride length
  • Stride time
  • Synchronization


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