Deficits in rate of force production during multifinger tasks are associated with cognitive status

Richard G. Carson*, Eimíle Holton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
78 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives: The multifinger force deficit (MFFD) is the decline in force generated by an individual finger as the number of fingers contributing to the action is increased. It has been proposed that as a measure of neural sufficiency rather than muscle status, it provides a means of detecting individuals at risk of cognitive decline. Age‐related deficits in central neural drive exert a disproportionate impact on the rate at which force can be generated. We examined whether a MFFD derived from the maximum rate at which force is generated, is more sensitive to individual differences in cognitive status, than one calculated using the maximum level of force.

Methods: Monotonic associations between each of two variants of the MFFD, and cognition (measured with the Montreal Cognitive Assessment), were estimated cross sectionally using generalized partial rank correlations, in which age, level of education and degree of handedness were included as covariates. The participants (n=26) were community dwelling adults aged 66‐87.

Results: The MFFD derived using the maximum rate of force development was negatively associated with cognitive status. The association for the MFFD based on the maximum level of force, was not statistically reliable. The associations with cognitive status obtained for both variants of the MFFD were of greater magnitude than those reported previously for standard grip strength dynamometry.

Conclusion: The sensitivity with which the MFFD detects risk of cognitive decline may be enhanced by using the maximum rate of force developed by each finger, rather than the maximum force generated by each finger.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number6
Early online date19 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • cognition
  • coordination
  • dexterity
  • grip strength
  • physical function


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