Cognitive-Motor Interference Heightens the Prefrontal Cortical Activation and Deteriorates the Task Performance in Children With Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy



Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Publication Title

Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation





First Page


Last Page



Cerebral palsy, Cognition, Rehabilitation


OBJECTIVE: To compare the prefrontal cortex (PFC) activation and task performance during single- and dual-task conditions between typically developing (TD) children and children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy (HCP). DESIGN: A prospective, comparative design. SETTING: Research laboratory. PARTICIPANTS: Participants (N=21) included 12 TD children (age, 6.0±1.1y) and 9 children with HCP (age, 7.2±3.1). INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: PFC activation was assessed by measuring the concentration of oxygenated hemoglobin while the children performed a shape-matching task with their more affected arm while sitting on a stable (single task) vs dynamic surface (dual task). The task performance was assessed with the total number of shapes matched, dual-task cost, and reaction time (RT). RESULTS: For both conditions, the children with HCP exhibited greater PFC activation, matched a fewer shapes, and had slower RT than the TD children. These differences were accentuated during the dual-task condition and the dual-task cost was greater. An increase in the PFC activation during the dual-task condition was tightly correlated with a higher dual-task cost in children with HCP (r=0.77, P=.01). CONCLUSIONS: Children with HCP appear to have a heightened amount of PFC activity while performing a dual task. The greater cortical activity may be a result of the finite attentional resources that are shared between both the motor as well as cognitive demands of the task. The cognitive-motor interference is likely exacerbated in children with HCP because of the structural and functional brain changes as a result of an insult to the developing brain.

Open Access

Green Accepted