“There was no estimation of which category we would fall into before testing them, we initially thought everyone would react the same way,” said Eleni Patelacki, a biomedical engineering PhD student at the University of Rochester School of Medicine.
Using a mobile brain/body imaging system, the researchers monitored the brain activity, kinematics and behavior of 26 healthy children aged 18 to 30 as they viewed a series of images, either sitting in a chair or on a treadmill. walking through .
Participants were instructed to click a button each time the image was changed. Back-to-back participants were asked not to click if the same image appeared. In this task, the seated performance achieved by each participant was considered their behavioral baseline.
When walking was combined to perform the same task, investigators found that Different behaviors appeared, with some performing worse than their sitting baseline – as expected based on previous studies – but also improved compared to baseline for some other people’s sitting.
How can walking build the brain?
Electroencephalogram, or EEG, data showed that 14 participants who improved in function while walking had a change in frontal brain function that was absent in 12 participants who did not improve.
Analyzing their behavior and brain activity, the researchers found a surprising difference in the group’s neural signature and what makes them handle complex dual-task processes differently.
These findings have the potential to expand and translate to populations where we know the flexibility of neural resources becomes compromised.
Extending this research to older adults could guide scientists in identifying potential markers for ‘super-agers’, or those with minimal decline in cognitive function. This marker will be useful in helping to better understand what may go wrong in neurodegenerative diseases.