Digital natives and dual task: Handling it but not immune against cognitive-locomotor interferences
Digital natives developed in an electronic dual tasking world. This paper addresses two questions. Do digital natives respond differently under a cognitive load realized during a locomotor task in a dual-tasking paradigm and how does this address the concept of safety? We investigate the interplay between cognitive (talking and solving Raven’s matrices) and locomotor (walking on a treadmill) tasks in a sample of 17 graduate level participants. The costs of dual-tasking on gait were assessed by studying changes in stride interval time and its variability at long-range. A safety index was designed and computed from total relative change between the variability indices in the single walking and dual-task conditions. As expected, results indicate high Raven’s scores with gait changes found between the dual task conditions compared to the single walking task. Greater changes are observed in the talking condition compared to solving Raven’s matrices, resulting in high safety index values observed in 5 participants. We conclude that, although digital natives are efficient in per- forming the dual tasks when they are not emotional-based, modification of gait are observ- able. Due to the variation within participants and the observation of high safety index values in several of them, individuals that responded poorly to low cognitive loads should be encouraged to not perform dual task when executing a primate task of safety to themselves or others.