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Cognitive-motor multitasking in athletes with and without intellectual impairment

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Purpose We investigated cognitive-motor multitasking in 29 top-athletes with intellectual impairment (II) recruited during the European Championship Games organized by Virtus (World Intellectual Impairment Sports) and 29 control (CT) athletes matched for age, sex, sports practiced and lifetime accumulated practice hours. Methods Participants performed a cognitive task that required recognizing previously displayed visual objects among distractors. The motor task required maintaining a stable upright posture balancing on a rocking board placed atop a force plate which assessed center-of-pressure (COP) movement. Both tasks were performed separately (with participants seated for the cognitive single-task) and concurrently under dual-task conditions, wherein participants memorized objects while balancing. We analyzed recognition accuracy, COP path length and sample entropy of the COP trajectory as a measure for automaticity of postural control. Results As expected, CT-athletes outperformed II-athletes in the cognitive task but the two groups have comparable performance in the postural task under single- and dual-task conditions. When multitasking, CT-athletes switched to more automatic postural control and maintained their postural sway at single-task levels. II-athletes prioritized balance thereby successfully keeping COP excursion comparable to single-task conditions. However, this came with pronounced costs for memory performance, which was unaffected by multitasking in CT-athletes. Conclusion The adaptive capacity observed in control athletes was not at the disposal of II-athletes who revealed pronounced sensitivities to multitasking interference. This sensitivity obviously was not compensated for by either athletic competence or potential transfer of athletic skill to domain-general cognitive functions.
Journal: Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports
ISSN: 0905-7188
Issue: 2
Volume: 32
Pages: 424 - 434
Publication year:2022