The relationship between specific cognitive functions and falls in aging

Neuropsychology. 2007 Sep;21(5):540-8. doi: 10.1037/0894-4105.21.5.540.


The current study examined the relationship between cognitive function and falls in older people who did not meet criteria for dementia or mild cognitive impairment (N = 172). To address limitations of previous research, the authors controlled for the confounding effects of gait measures and other risk factors by means of associations between cognitive function and falls. A neuropsychological test battery was submitted to factor analysis, yielding 3 orthogonal factors (Verbal IQ, Speed/Executive Attention, Memory). Single and recurrent falls within the last 12 months were evaluated. The authors hypothesized that Speed/Executive Attention would be associated with falls. Additionally, the authors assessed whether associations between different cognitive functions and falls varied depending on whether single or recurrent falls were examined. Multivariate logistic regressions showed that lower scores on Speed/Executive Attention were associated with increased risk of single and recurrent falls. Lower scores on Verbal IQ were related only to increased risk of recurrent falls. Memory was not associated with either single or recurrent falls. These findings are relevant to risk assessment and prevention of falls and point to possible shared neural substrates of cognitive and motor function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / physiopathology
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index