Cognitive functioning predicts survival in the elderly

Kevin Duff, James W. Mold, Yori Gidron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Prior studies of aging have identified a number of predictors of survival, including performances on some cognitive-functioning tests. However, few studies have used a multidomain test battery to identify which specific cognitive abilities predict death. The current study examined the 12 subtests of the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS) to see which subtests predicted death in a sample of 796 older, primary care patients. After 4 years, 98 individuals died, and 698 individuals remained alive. The individuals who died performed more poorly at baseline on 9 of the 12 RBANS subtests (p <.05) than did their peers who remained alive. In a multivariate analysis, however, only the RBANS Coding subtest independently predicted death (p <.001), along with male gender and greater initial medical comorbidity. Although the mechanism of poorer cognition and impending death remains unclear, some possibilities are discussed (e.g., brain dysfunction, poor medical compliance, impaired cellular immunity).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-95
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Coding
  • Digit symbol
  • Elderly
  • Repeatable battery for the assessment of neuropsychological status
  • Survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Psychology


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