Biomarkers, health, lifestyle, and demographic variables as correlates of reaction time performance in early, middle, and late adulthood

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We aimed to identify demographic, health, and biomarker correlates of reaction time performance and to determine whether biomarkers explained age differences in reaction time performance. The sample comprised three representative cohorts aged 20-24, 40-44, and 60-64 years, including a total of 7,485 participants. Reaction time measures of intraindividual variability and latency were used. The measure of intraindividual variability used was independent of mean reaction time. Older adults were more variable than younger adults in choice reaction time performance but not simple reaction time performance. The most important correlates of reaction time performance after gender and education were biological markers such as forced expiratory volume at one second, grip strength, and vision. Few measures of physical or mental health or lifestyle were associated with poorer performance on reaction time measures. Biomarkers explained the majority of age-related variance in simple reaction time and a large proportion of variance in choice reaction time. We conclude that for the ages studied, biomarkers are more important than health factors for explaining age differences in reaction time performance.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2005

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