Deficits in force production during multifinger tasks demarcate cognitive dysfunction

Richard G Carson*, Debora Berdondini, Maebh Crosbie, Caoilan McConville, Shannon Forbes, Marla Stewart, Ruth Zhi Xian Chiu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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The multifinger force deficit (MFFD) is the decline in force generated by each finger as the number of fingers contributing to an action is increased. It has been shown to associate with cognitive status.

The aim was to establish whether a particularly challenging form of multifinger grip dynamometry, that provides minimal tactile feedback via cutaneous receptors and requires active compensation for reaction forces, will yield an MFFD that is more sensitive to cognitive status.

Associations between measures of motor function, and cognitive status (Montreal Cognitive Assessment [MoCA]) and latent components of cognitive function (derived from 11 tests using principal component analysis), were estimated cross-sectionally using generalized partial rank correlations. The participants (n  =  62) were community dwelling, aged 65–87.
Approximately half the participants were unable to complete the dynamometry task successfully. Cognitive status demarcated individuals who could perform the task from those who could not. Among those who complied with the task requirements, the MFFD was negatively correlated with MoCA scores—those with the highest MoCA scores tended to exhibit the smallest deficits, and vice versa. There were corresponding associations with latent components of cognitive function.

The results support the view that neurodegenerative processes that are a feature of normal and pathological aging exert corresponding effects on expressions of motor coordination—in multifinger tasks, and cognitive sufficiency, due to their dependence on shared neural systems.

The outcomes add weight to the assertion that deficits in force production during multifinger tasks are sensitive to cognitive dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number87
Number of pages12
JournalAging Clinical and Experimental Research
Publication statusPublished - 05 Apr 2024


  • Cognition
  • Coordination
  • Dexterity
  • Physical Function
  • Grip Strength
  • Fingers
  • Humans
  • Hand Strength
  • Aging
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Cognitive Dysfunction


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