Dual tasking, executive functioning and socio-behavioural functioning in healthy and pathological ageing.
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Background Whereas executive functioning has been found to decline in healthy ageing (e.g. Daigneault et al., 1992), dual task ability (Della Sala et al., 2010) and socio-behavioural functioning (e.g. MacPherson et al., 2002) appear to remain stable with age. Impairment in dual tasking (e.g. Logie et al., 2004), executive functioning (Baudic et al., 2006) and socio-behavioural functioning (e.g. Bruen et al., 2008) has been found in many people with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Recent research with people with traumatic brain injury (TBI) has suggested a relationship between dual tasking and socio-behavioural functioning, with patients impaired in dual tasking demonstrating greater behavioural dysfunction (Alderman, 1996; Foley et al., 2010). Objectives & Design To investigate dual tasking, executive functioning and socio-behavioural functioning in healthy and pathological ageing; between groups of healthy younger (N=25) and healthy older (N=25) participants and in three case studies of people with AD, using a battery of measures. Results No significant differences in performance between healthy younger and older participant groups were found in dual tasking or socio-behavioural functioning. Healthy older participants performed significantly poorer than healthy younger participants in executive functioning (assessed using total raw scores). None of the three cases presented in this study were found to have impairment in dual task performance. All cases had some impairment in executive and socio-behavioural functioning. No association between performance on a measure of dual tasking and measures of socio-behavioural functioning was found in participants with AD. Conclusions These findings provide support for previous research in healthy ageing. Findings from the three cases are explored, and discussed with reference to the limitations of the study. It is suggested that the exploration of the association between dual tasking and socio-behavioural functioning in people with AD is an important issue for future research.