Intraindividual variability in cognitive performance in older adults: comparison of adults with mild dementia, adults with arthritis, and healthy adults

Neuropsychology. 2000 Oct;14(4):588-98. doi: 10.1037//0894-4105.14.4.588.


Intraindividual variability in latency and accuracy of cognitive performance across both trials and occasions was examined in 3 groups of older adults: healthy adults, adults with arthritis, and adults diagnosed with mild dementia. Participants completed 2 reaction-time and 2 episodic-memory tasks on 4 occasions. Results indicated that intraindividual variability in latency was greater in individuals diagnosed with mild dementia than in adults who were neurologically intact, regardless of their health status. Individual differences in variability were stable over time and across cognitive domains. Intraindividual variability was also related to level of performance and was uniquely predictive of neurological status, independent of level of performance. Results suggest that intraindividual variability may be a behavioral indicator of compromised neurological mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthritis* / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Dementia* / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index