Poor estimates of motor variability are associated with longer grooved pegboard times for middle-aged and older adults

Luca Petrigna, Luca Petrigna, Landon D. Hamilton, Melissa R. Mazzo, Roger M. Enoka, Alaa A. Ahmed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Goal-directed movements that involve greater motor variability are performed with an increased risk that the intended goal will not be achieved. The ability to estimate motor variability during such actions varies across individuals and influences how people decide to move about their environment. The purpose of our study was to identify the decision-making strategies used by middle-aged and older adults when performing two goal-directed motor tasks and to determine if these strategies were associated with the time to complete the grooved pegboard test. Twenty-one middle-aged (48 ± 6 yr; range 40-59 yr, 15 women) and 20 older adults (73 ± 4 yr; range 65-79 yr, 8 women) performed two targeted tasks, each with two normalized target options. Decision-making characteristics were not associated with time to complete the test of manual dexterity when the analysis included all participants, but slower pegboard times were associated with measures of greater movement variability during the target-directed actions. When the data were clustered on the basis of pegboard time rather than age, relatively longer times for the faster group were associated with greater motor variability during the prescribed tasks, whereas longer times for the slower group were associated with increased risk-seeking behavior (α) and greater variability in the targeted actions. NEW & NOTEWORTHY This study was the first to examine the association between decision-making choices and an NIH Toolbox test of manual dexterity (grooved pegboard test) performed by middle-aged and older adults. Significant associations were observed between decision-making choices and time to complete the test when the analyses were based on pegboard times rather than chronological age. This result indicates that decision-making choices of middle-aged and older adults, independent of age, were associated with time to complete a test of manual dexterity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)588-601
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Publication statusPublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology

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