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Maria Miller1, Leiden Rounds1, Rebecca R. Rogers1, Mallory R. Marshall, FACSM2. 1Samford University, Birmingham, AL. 2Samford University, Hoover, AL.

Dual tasking, or performing two tasks simultaneously, may result in decreased performance in one or both tasks compared to performing the task on its own. Some research suggests that during dual tasking, completing a task requiring postural control may result in improved rather than worsened performance on a cognitive task. Thus the purpose of this study was to determine the effect of surface stability on performance of memory-related cognitive tasks. College-age male and female participants were recruited via convenience sampling and visited the laboratory for a single visit. During the lab session, participants completed three cognitive tests: the Stroop Color and Word Test (SCWT), the Sternberg Test of Working Memory (STWM), and the Paced Serial Addition Test (PASAT). Each test was completed in a counterbalanced order while the participant stood on each of three surfaces: a flat surface (floor), the rounded side of a BOSU ball, and the flat side of a BOSU ball. Surface order was also counterbalanced, and a balance score was assigned during each test by use of a modified balance error scoring system (BESS) score. ANOVA was used to compare cognitive test errors and BESS errors among the three groups. There was no significant difference in performance on any of the three cognitive tests regardless of the surface the participant stood upon (p>0.05). However, balance was significantly worse (higher BESS score) during all three cognitive tests when standing on the flat and round sides of the BOSU compared to on the ground (p=0.023 for SCWT, 0.011 for STWM, and 0.002 for PASAT). These data indicate that during dual tasking involving balance demands, cognitive performance takes priority over balance, which may increase fall risk.

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