Walking modality, but not task difficulty, influences the control of dual-task walking

James Wrightson, Nicholas Smeeton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During dual-task gait, changes in the stride-to-stride variability of stride time (STV) are suggested to represent the allocation of cognitive control to walking [1]. However, contrasting effects have been reported for overground and treadmill walking, which may be due to differences in the relative difficulty of the dual task. Here we compared the effect of overground and treadmill dual-task walking on STV in 18 healthy adults. Participants walked overground and on a treadmill for 120 s during single-task (walking only) and dual-task (walking whilst performing serial subtractions in sevens) conditions. Dual-task effects on STV, cognitive task (serial subtraction) performance and perceived task difficulty were compared between walking modalities. STV was increased during overground dual-task walking, but was unchanged during treadmill dual-task walking. There were no differences in cognitive task performance or perceived task difficulty. These results show that gait is controlled differently during overground and treadmill dual-task walking. However, these differences are not solely due to differences in task difficulty, and may instead represent modality dependent control strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-138
Number of pages3
JournalGait & Posture
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2017


  • GaitCognition
  • Dual-task
  • Treadmill walking
  • Overground walking


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