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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Out-of-home mobility : a measure of daily cognition in young adults Butt, Melanie Anne


Work in gerontology has established an important relationship between cognition and mobility, in that maintaining mobility is reliant on maintaining the integrity of executive cognitive functions. While young adults do not exhibit cognitive decline as do older adults, they can experience momentary fluctuations in cognitive abilities via daily cognitive failures or errors, compounded by variations in mood states. Studying cognition, mood and mobility in an integrated fashion would be beneficial for broadening our understanding of daily cognition, yet these relationships are rarely studied in young adults. The aim of this work is to examine how fluctuations in daily cognition as well as mood impact out-of-home mobility in young adults, to see whether such relationships extend across the life span. We passively collected global positioning system (GPS) data from undergraduate and graduate student participants (N = 173) for two weeks; they filled out baseline measures of cognition and mood in-lab, as well as daily questionnaires on their phones, assessing cognition, mood, and daily activity patterns (place visits, transportation use, environments visited). Spearman correlations showed that at the two-week aggregate level, greater daily cognition and baseline executive functioning were associated with less time spent at home, but these measures did not provide predictive value in regression models. Greater daily positive mood was predictive of greater distances travelled, but we did not find support for cognition impacting distances travelled. Taken together, these mixed findings suggest that mobility is not as readily impacted by fluctuations in cognitive and mood states in young, healthy adults, as is seen in older adults or clinical populations. Future work should focus on extending existing theoretical frameworks to young adults and assessing what other factors may be of relevance.

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