Cognitive functioning is more closely related to real-life mobility than to laboratory-based mobility parameters

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Increasing evidence indicates that mobility depends on cognitive resources, but the exact relationships between various cognitive functions and different mobility parameters still need to be investigated. This study examines the hypothesis that cognitive functioning is more closely related to real-life mobility performance than to mobility capacity as measured with standardized laboratory tests. The final sample used for analysis consisted of 66 older adults (72.3 ± 5.6 years). Cognition was assessed by measures of planning (HOTAP test), spatial working memory (Grid-Span test) and visuospatial attention (Attention Window test). Mobility capacity was assessed by an instrumented version of the Timed Up-and-Go test (iTUG). Mobility performance was assessed with smartphones which collected accelerometer and GPS data over one week to determine the spatial extent and temporal duration of real-life activities. Data analyses involved an exploratory factor analysis and correlation analyses. Mobility measures were reduced to four orthogonal factors: the factor ‘real-life mobility’ correlated significantly with most cognitive measures (between r = .229 and r = .396); factors representing ‘sit-to-stand transition’ and ‘turn’ correlated with fewer cognitive measures (between r = .271 and r = .315 and between r = .210 and r = .316, respectively), and the factor representing straight gait correlated with only one cognitive measure (r = .237). Among the cognitive functions tested, visuospatial attention was associated with most mobility measures, executive functions with fewer and spatial working memory with only one mobility measure. Capacity and real-life performance represent different aspects of mobility. Real-life mobility is more closely associated with cognition than mobility capacity, and in our data this association is most pronounced for visuospatial attention. The close link between real-life mobility and visuospatial attention should be considered by interventions targeting mobility in old age.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Ageing
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)57-65
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2017

ID: 3034656

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