Assessment of Cognitive-Motor Performance Costs, Task Prioritization, and Adaptation to Dishwashing Under Increased Demand in Older Women With Arthritis

Shannon T. Mejía, Karen E. Nielsen, Vineet Raichur, Alicia G. Carmichael, Eugene Tavares, Jennie Jarvis, Jacqui Smith, Richard Gonzalez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Objectives: Hand arthritis can limit upper-limb instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) and require the recruitment of additional cognitive and motor resources to support performance. We devised a dual-task protocol for dishwashing to examine cognitive-motor performance costs and prioritizations under increased demands, processes of adaptation, and individual differences in performance costs. Research Design and Methods: Sixty women with hand arthritis (aged 60-91) completed a standardized dishwashing protocol. Motor demand was increased via the properties of the soap dispenser. Cognitive demand was increased using audial attention and response inhibition tasks. The protocol was completed twice per lab visit on 3 occasions. Response time and dishwashing time provided measures of cognitive and motor task performance. Prioritization was determined by comparing the magnitude of dual-task cost (DTC) across tasks. Adaptation to the dishwashing protocol and novel dispenser was assessed by change in DTC across lab visits. Individual differences in cognitive and physical ability were assessed with the trail making B test and gait speed. Results: Estimates from linear mixed-effects models revealed that response time increased, whereas dishwashing time decreased, during the dual-task study stages. Cognitive-motor prioritization effects were most pronounced among women with lower cognitive and physical ability. Evidence of prioritization and individual differences in DTC diminished across lab visits. Discussion and Implications: The pattern of results suggests that older women with arthritis prioritize the motor over cognitive components of dishwashing, a common IADL. Adaptation across lab visits resulted in improved performance, reduced evidence of prioritization, and attenuated differences in DTC across physical and cognitive abilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberigaa059
JournalInnovation in Aging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Arthritis
  • Physical ability
  • IADLs
  • Executive function
  • Dual task

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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