Patterns of cognitive performance in middle-aged and older adults: A cluster analytic examination

John Gunstad*, Robert H. Paul, Adam M. Brickman, Ronald A. Cohen, Martijn Arns, Donald Roe, Jeffery J. Lawrence, Evian Gordon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Cognitive decline in speeded abilities, executive function, and memory is believed to typify normal aging. However, there is significant variability in cognitive function with advanced age and some reports of relatively intact cognitive function among a subset of older individuals. The present study consists of a cluster analysis to examine the patterns of cognitive function in middle-aged and older individuals. Analyses revealed 3 clusters of middle-aged adults, including an intact group, persons with poor motor speed, and a group with reduced executive function. Three clusters were also identified for older adults, including a group with poor executive function, persons with reduced speed performance (attention, executive function, motor), and a group with global cognitive decline. No evidence emerged for a cluster of older adults with intact performance in all domains or with isolated memory deficits. Findings generally support the frontal aging hypothesis and may provide important information about healthy cognitive aging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-64
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • cognition
  • aging
  • RISK

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