Semester of Graduation

Summer

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Department of Psychology

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Driving is a complex task heavily dependent on cognitive functions which can decline with age including executive functions and processing speed. Although driving cessation as a predictor of cognitive changes has been studied, driving frequency is understudied in the literature. Thus, the objective of the current study is to evaluate the predictive utility of driving frequency at baseline toward objective cognitive decline beyond other factors associated with cognitive decline (e.g., depression, general functional mobility). The sample included a subset of 1,426 older adults (M age = 77.6, SD = 7.1) from the Rush University Memory and Aging Project. Participants completed batteries of questionnaires and neuropsychological tests at baseline and yearly follow-ups (M = 6.8, SD = 4.9). Linear mixed effects models were estimated to examine the incremental predictive utility of daily driving frequency at baseline on cognitive decline across multiple cognitive domains beyond mobility, depression, and demographics. Less daily driving frequency was independently associated with worse objective cognitive functioning globally and in all domains except for episodic memory. The interaction between driving frequency and follow-up year was associated with objective cognitive functioning globally and in all domains such that less driving was associated with greater rates of decline. Our findings extend prior research linking driving cessation to greater levels of cognitive decline. Future research should explore changes in driving frequency (or other driving habits) over time to better understand the relationship between functional and cognitive decline.

Date

7-12-2022

Committee Chair

Calamia, Matthew R.

Available for download on Wednesday, July 12, 2023

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