Megan D. Jones1, Joshua L. Gills1, Sally Paulson1,2, Anthony Campitelli1, Jordan M. Glenn1,3, Erica N. Madero3, Jennifer Myers3, Michelle Gray1

1University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, 2Elizabeth Healthcare, Edgewood, KY, 3Neurotrack Technologies, Redwood City, CA

Executive function, a measure of cognitive performance, is composed of attention, inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. Declines in executive function can lead to memory loss, poor motor control, and increased fall risk. Although cognitive decline is a natural outcome of aging, this process can possibly be slowed when diagnosed in the early stages. Many tests of cognitive function are expensive and time-consuming making them impractical for clinical settings. Positive correlations have been previously established between physical function and cognitive function suggesting that poor physical function may imply poor cognitive function. Handgrip testing has previously been used as an effective measure of functional fitness in adults and has been shown to have high test-retest reliability. PURPOSE: To determine if handgrip strength can predict executive function in adults. METHODS: Adults aged 45 – 75 (N: 194: age: 61.9 ± 8.2) completed 3 attempts of handgrip testing on each hand with the average of all attempts being used for analysis. Attention, a component of executive function, was measured through arrow match assessment (Neurotrack Technologies, Inc.). Pearson correlations were used to determine associations between handgrip strength and attention scores. RESULTS: Weak significant positive correlations existed between right handgrip and attention scores (r = .34, p <.001), left handgrip and attention scores (r = .30, p <.001), along with the average of right and left handgrip and attention scores (r = .32, p <.001). The linear regression equation ŷ = .888 + .324x was produced to predict attention scores (ŷ) using the average handgrip force in kilograms (x) (r2 = .11, p <.001). CONCLUSION: Handgrip strength was correlated with attention scores in adults aged 45 – 75. With attention being a component of executive function, handgrip may be an inexpensive, quick mode of testing for clinical settings to predict executive function in adults.

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