Response time inconsistency (RTI) in cognitive performance predicts deleterious health outcomes in late-life; however, RTI estimates are often confounded by additional influences (e.g., individual differences in learning). Finger tapping is a basic sensorimotor measure largely independent of higher-order cognition that may circumvent such confounds of RTI estimates. We examined the within-person coupling of finger-tapping mean and RTI on working memory, and the moderation of these associations by cognitive status.


A total of 262 older adults were recruited and classified as controls, cognitively-impaired-not-demented (CIND) unstable or CIND stable. Participants completed finger-tapping and working-memory tasks during multiple weekly assessments, repeated annually for 4 years.


Within-person coupling estimates from multilevel models indicated that on occasions when RTI was greater, working-memory response latency was slower for the CIND-stable, but not for the CIND-unstable or control individuals.


The finger-tapping task shows potential for minimizing confounds on RTI estimates, and for yielding RTI estimates sensitive to central nervous system function and cognitive status.

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