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Cognition in Action: Using near infra-red spectroscopy to study changes in cerebral oxygenation during dual-task performances

Photo of Sarah Fraser

Professor Sarah Fraser

Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

March 8, 2016 13:00 - 14:30

Canal Building Room 2104, Carleton University

Paid parking available on campus.

Registration not required.


Everyday situations in which attention is divided (e.g., walking and thinking) can put older adults at risk for accidents and falls. Research evidence suggests that age-related changes in the prefrontal cortex might influence the ability to manage these types of dual-task situations. In order to prevent falls and provide early interventions for cognitive-motor declines, interdisciplinary research targeting neural contributions during dual-task situations is needed. Near infra-red spectroscopy (NIRS) is one neuroimaging approach that is applicable to both seated and walking situations (that involve movement) and therefore can be applied to situations in which participants are asked to divide their attention between a motor task and a cognitive task (dual task). A series of studies exploring the changes in cerebral oxygenation during dual-task performance will be discussed and a portable NIRS prototype developed by an interdisciplinary team including biomedical engineers, cognitive scientists, and physiologists will be presented.


Sarah Fraser is an assistant professor in the Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences. She obtained her doctorate from the Psychology department at Concordia University in Montreal for her thesis on the role of executive functions in aging and fine motor control. Dr. Fraser was successful at securing funding from "les Fonds de recherche nature et technologies" for her Postdoctoral position at the Centre de recherche de l'Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montré al, l'UQAM, and the Montreal Heart Institute. During this fellowship she explored the cerebral activity of older adults while walking and thinking (dual-tasking) and physical and cognitive interventions that could improve the ability to manage two tasks simultaneously. She has since obtained a CIHR grant (with Bherer, Lesage, & Nigam) to explore longitudinal changes in cerebral activity in older adults when they are dual tasking.

Last updated February 18, 2016

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