Exploring the relationship between age, executive abilities, and psychomotor speed

Beth A. Keys, Desirée A. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Age-related declines in executive abilities have been widely reported and are thought to result from neuropathological changes in the prefrontal cortex. Some investigators have suggested that age-related changes in cognition may be the result of slowed information processing speed rather than declines in specific cognitive abilities. We examined the relationships among age, executive abilities, and psychomotor speed in 40 older adults and 46 young adults. Both verbal and nonverbal tasks were administered that measured 2 aspects of executive ability: set formation and set shifting. Executive and psychomotor speed tasks were paired based on similarities in basic task demands. Our results revealed that poorer executive performance was associated with increasing age. Further, although psychomotor speed attenuated the relationship, age accounted for a unique and significant proportion of variance in executive performance after controlling for psychomotor speed. These results suggest that age has an effect on prefrontally mediated executive abilities that cannot be explained solely in terms of psychomotor slowing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-82
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000


  • Aging
  • Executive ability
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Psychomotor speed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring the relationship between age, executive abilities, and psychomotor speed'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this