Executive function, memory, and gait speed decline in well-functioning older adults

N. L. Watson, C. Rosano, R. M. Boudreau, E. M. Simonsick, L. Ferrucci, K. Sutton-Tyrrell, S. E. Hardy, H. H. Atkinson, K. Yaffe, S. Satterfield, T. B. Harris, A. B. Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background.In community-dwelling older adults, global cognitive function predicts longitudinal gait speed decline. Few prospective studies have evaluated whether specific executive cognitive deficits in aging may account for gait slowing over time.Methods.Multiple cognitive tasks were administered at baseline in 909 participants in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study Cognitive Vitality Substudy (mean age 75.2 ± 2.8 years, 50.6% women, 48.4% black). Usual gait speed (m/s) over 20 minutes was assessed at baseline and over a 5-year follow-up.Results.Poorer performance in each cognitive task was cross-sectionally associated with slower gait independent of demographic and health characteristics. In longitudinal analyses, each 1 SD poorer performance in global function, verbal memory, and executive function was associated with 0.003-0.004 m/s greater gait speed decline per year (p =.03-.05) after adjustment for baseline gait speed, demographic, and health characteristics. Conclusions.In this well-functioning cohort, several cognitive tasks were associated with gait speed cross-sectionally and predicted longitudinal gait speed decline. These data are consistent with a shared pathology underlying cognitive and motor declines but do not suggest that specific executive cognitive deficits account for slowing of usual gait in aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1093-1100
Number of pages8
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Volume65 A
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Cognitive function
  • Gait speed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Executive function, memory, and gait speed decline in well-functioning older adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this