Poster C12, Sunday, March 26, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
The effect of cerebellar lesions on visual attention during motor-cognitive dual-task performance
Erika Künstler1, Albrecht Günther1, Carsten Klingner1, Otto Witte1, Peter Bublak1; 1Jena University Hospital
Cerebellar involvement in motoric coordination has long been established; however, increasing evidence implicates the cerebellum in executive functions, for example in dual-tasking, the concurrent execution of two tasks. The current study therefore assessed how acquired cerebellar lesions affected the simultaneous performance of a cognitive and a motoric task in infarct patients compared to controls. The patient group consisted of 20 individuals with unilateral cerebellar infarcts, isolated strictly to the cerebellum. A healthy matched control group was also tested. Both groups completed a motoric tapping task and a visual attention test under single-task conditions, as well as both tasks simultaneously in a dual-task condition. The visual attention task, based on the Theory of Visual Attention, provided estimates of the size of the storage capacity of the visual short-term memory (VSTM; parameter K), as well as the processing speed (parameter C) of participants. C remained stable between the single and dual-task conditions in both groups, although K was significantly reduced in patients in the dual task (p=0,008), but not in controls. In patients, tapping performance also decreased in the dual task condition (p=0,009), whilst the performance of controls remained stable. Furthermore, the lateralization of the infarct had no significant effect on tapping performance, indicating that diminished performance in the dual-task arose due to cognitive dual-tasking costs, rather than from motoric deficits. These findings suggest that the size of the attentional focus, as reflected by VSTM, is adversely affected in cerebellar lesions, rather than processing speed, leading to performance decrements in dual-tasking.
Topic Area: ATTENTION: Other