A recent study, says that the capacity to multitask begins to decline starting with the age of 55.
According to this new research, which was published in Lancet Healthy Longevity, middle-aged adults may find it more difficult to walk and talk at the same time, among other activities, a full ten years before the traditional old age cutoff of 65.
According to the study, changes in brain function rather than alterations in physical health are what lead to the decline.
According to lead researcher Junhong Zhou, some study participants’ inability to walk and talk at the same time may be an indication of accelerated brain aging.
For people over 65, difficulties with “dual-tasking” may also make them unsteady.
Zhou said that “As compared to just walking quietly, walking under dual task conditions adds stress to the motor control system as the 2 tasks have to compete for shared resources in the brain. What we believe is that the capacity to handle the stress and adequately maintain performance in both tasks is an important brain function which tends to be diminished in older age.”
Walking made it more difficult to perform other tasks, such as reading signs and also making decisions.
Researchers conducted a study on almost 1,000 adults in Spain, including 640 who underwent gait and cognitive tests, they reported on Tuesday.
Every participant could walk by themselves. The 40–64-year-old adults walked reasonably steadily in quiet, everyday situations.
Zhou went on to also explain: “However, even in this quite healthy cohort, when we asked the participants to walk and perform a mental task at the same time, we were able to notice subtle yet important changes in gait starting in the middle of the 6th decade of life.”
According to the study’s authors, juggling two tasks at once requires a variety of cognitive resources. The rate at which the brain can process information can affect performance.
The study reads that: “Evidence suggests aging alters each of these factors and therefore leads to greater DTC to performance in one or both involved tasks. Poor dual task gait performance has been linked to a risk of major cognitive impairment, falls, and brain health alterations in older adults. [The results] further suggest that dual task walking is an essential functional ability that should be routinely monitored starting in middle age.”
Although many age-related illnesses, including neurodegenerative conditions like dementia, first appear in middle age, things don’t necessarily get worse after age 55.
Both individuals over the age of 50 and those under the age of 60 took part in the tests.
According to Zhou, some people appear to age slower than others, so the situation can differ greatly from one person to another.