Mental effort required for walking: Effects of retinitis pigmentosa

Kathleen A. Turano, Duane R. Geruschat, Julie W. Stahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Purpose. To determine whether retinitis pigmentosa (RP) increases the mental effort required for walking. Methods. A dual-task methodology was used; walking speed and reaction time (RT) to randomly emitted tones were measured in 13 persons with RP and 29 persons with normal vision. Measures of RT were used to estimate the mental effort required for walking. In a second experiment, 15 persons with RP and 17 persons with normal vision navigated a `simple' and a `complex' route. Results. The RP subjects had longer RT compared with the normal-vision subjects when walking the complex but not the simple route. Normalized to each person's baseline, RT while walking the complex route was significantly correlated with log contrast sensitivity (r = -0.63) and log retinal area (r = -0.64) in the RP group. The amount of mental effort required for walking was shown to also depend on familiarity with the route. Conclusions. Route complexity is critical in determining whether walking requires more mental effort for persons with RP than for persons with normal vision. The magnitude of mental effort required for mobility covaries with the visual impairment measures which correlate with mobility performance in RP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)879-886
Number of pages8
JournalOptometry and Vision Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Dual-task methodology
  • Mental effort
  • Mobility
  • Retinitis pigmentosa
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Optometry


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