The effect of instructions on postural-suprapostural interactions in three working memory tasks

Christopher J. Burcal, Evan C. Drabik, Erik A. Wikstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Examining postural control while simultaneously performing a cognitive, or suprapostural task, has shown a fairly consistent trend of improving postural control in young healthy adults and provides insight into postural control mechanisms used in everyday life. However, the role of attention driven by explicit verbal instructions while dual-tasking is less understood. Therefore, the purpose of this investigation is to determine the effects of explicit verbal instructions on the postural-suprapostural interactions among various domains of working memory. A total of 22 healthy young adults with a heterogeneous history of ankle sprains volunteered to participate (age: 22.2 ± 5.1 years; n= 10 history of ankle sprains, n= 12 no history). Participants were asked to perform single-limb balance trials while performing three suprapostural tasks: backwards counting, random number generation, and the manikin test. In addition, each suprapostural task was completed under three conditions of instruction: no instructions, focus on the postural control task, focus on the suprapostural task. The results indicate a significant effect of instructions on postural control outcomes, with postural performance improving in the presence of instructions across all three cognitive tasks which each stress different aspects of working memory. Further, postural-suprapostural interactions appear to be related to the direction or focus of an individual's attention as instructions to focus on the suprapostural task resulted in the greatest postural control improvements. Thus, attention driven by explicit verbal instructions influence postural-suprapostural interactions as measured by a temporal-spatial postural control outcome, time-to-boundary, regardless of the suprapostural task performed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-314
Number of pages5
JournalGait and Posture
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Dual-task interference
  • Instructions
  • Postural control
  • Time to boundary
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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