Executive function orchestrates regulation of task-relevant gait fluctuations

Leslie M. Decker, Fabien Cignetti, Nicholas Stergiou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Humans apply a minimum intervention principle to regulate treadmill walking, rapidly correcting fluctuations in the task-relevant variable (step speed: SS) while ignoring fluctuations in the task-irrelevant variables (step time: ST; step length: SL). We examined whether the regulation of fluctuations in SS and not in ST and SL depends on high-level, executive function, processes. Young adults walked on a treadmill without a cognitive requirement and while performing the cognitive task of dichotic listening. SS fluctuations became less anti-persistent when performing dichotic listening, meaning that taxing executive function impaired the ability to rapidly correct speed deviations on subsequent steps. Conversely, performing dichotic listening had no effect on SL and ST persistent fluctuations. Findings suggest that high-level brain processes are involved only in regulating gait task-relevant variables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)537-540
Number of pages4
JournalGait and Posture
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Detrended fluctuation analysis
  • Executive function
  • Minimum intervention principle
  • Variability
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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