Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Physical Therapy

First Committee Member

Merrill Landers

Second Committee Member

Jeffrey Cummings

Third Committee Member

Brach Poston

Fourth Committee Member

Samantha John

Number of Pages



Automaticity --- the ability to perform a task with directing attentional resources to its completion --- is commonly reduced among individuals with neurodegenerative diseases. These automaticity deficits result in impaired functional and daily activities and are sensitive to subtle, subclinical impairments. However, current measurement of automaticity by dual task paradigms is methodologically limited. In order to gain insight into the current state of the literature regarding cognitive-motor interference in symptomatic and prodromal neurodegenerative disease, the author of this dissertation conducted a scoping review (Chapter 1). To address the methodological limitations of current measurement of automaticity, a new measurement tool was proposed and evidence for its reliability and validity provided (Chapter 2). Next, the utility of this novel measure of automaticity was then investigated. In Chapter 3, the relationship between automaticity and cortical thickness was investigated among individuals with AD, revealing a relationship between the dorsal lateral prefrontal and superior parietal cortices. The relationship between amyloidosis and automaticity was then investigated among healthy individuals (Chapter 4), demonstrating the utility of this novel tool to identify individuals with preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. Overall the findings of this dissertation provide evidence of the reliability and validity of this novel measure of automaticity, and provide several examples of its utility over previously used measures of automaticity. Future research should investigate similar relationships with real-time functional imaging, such as functional near infrared spectroscopy, during cognitive-motor dual tasks.


Alzheimer's disease; Automaticity; Dual Task; Neurodegeneration; Parkinson's disease


Medical Neurobiology | Neuroscience and Neurobiology | Neurosciences | Physical Therapy | Physiotherapy

File Format


File Size

1971 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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