Presence and severity of perceived pain in older adults are associated with attenuated prefrontal cortex (PFC) oxygenation when changing from single- to dual-task walking, the latter of which requires greater cognitive demand.
Why this matters
The PFC is involved in pain perception and cortical control of locomotion. Pain is present in a high proportion of older adults, but its impact on cortical control of locomotion is unknown.
Routine clinical use of pain assessments might help to identify older adults at risk of neural under-recruitment during cognitively demanding walking.