A dual-task paradigm is a procedure in experimental neuropsychology that requires an individual to perform two tasks simultaneously, in order to compare performance with single-task conditions.
When performance scores on one and/or both tasks are lower when they are done simultaneously compared to separately, these two tasks interfere with each other, and it is assumed that both tasks compete for the same class of information processing resources in the brain.
For instance, reciting poetry while riding a bike are two tasks that can be performed just as well separately as simultaneously. However, reciting poetry while writing an essay should deteriorate performance on at least one of these two tasks, because they interfere with each other.
Difficulty performing more than one task at a time is a common and disabling problem experienced by people with Parkinson disease (PD). If asked to perform another task when walking, people with PD often take shorter steps or walk more slowly. There is uncertainty amongst physiotherapists about whether clinicians should teach people with PD to avoid dual tasking or whether they should encourage them to practice dual tasking with the hope that practice will lead to enhanced performance.
Here in the clinic we train people with Parkinson’s Disease to move BIG which is the opposite to their small and slow movements. As they progress we add more and more complexity to their exercises, making sure their BIGNESS does not deteriorate. Dual tasking is something we believe cannot be avoided in the real world and incredibly difficult to discourage in people with Parkinson’s. Because of this we think training dual tasking is vital whilst maintaining BIGNESS. This is no easy feat but most of our clients are up for the challenge.
We are now using MP3 players during therapy so our patients can dual task and exercise. This makes for an interesting looking gym environment!