Mental health and cognitive function in adults aged 18 to 92 years

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2008 Mar;63(2):P67-74. doi: 10.1093/geronb/63.2.p67.


We investigated mental health and cognitive function in 195 community-dwelling adults aged 18 to 92 years (M = 46.64). We assessed several cognitive domains, including psychomotor, executive function, and episodic memory. We found a significant Age x Mental Health interaction in relation to within-person (WP) variability (trial-to-trial variability in reaction time performance) in a four-choice psychomotor task and a Stroop task, but not in relation to mean reaction time measures from those tasks. Poorer mental health was associated with greater WP variability in older adults. We did not find this effect in relation to memory. The findings suggest that measures of WP variability may be sensitive to relatively subtle effects associated with age and poor mental health, and that they provide valuable insights into cognitive function in old age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / diagnosis
  • Memory Disorders / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychomotor Disorders / epidemiology
  • Reaction Time*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires