Impact of pain on prefrontal cortex activation during tasks with increasing cognitive demand


  • 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.