Document Type


Publication Date



American Physiological Society

Source Publication

Journal of Neurophysiology

Source ISSN



Well-documented manual dexterity impairments in older adults may critically depend on the processing of visual information. The purpose of this study was to determine age-related changes in eye and hand movements during commonly used pegboard tests and the association with manual dexterity impairments in older adults. The relationship between attentional deficits and manual dexterity was also assessed. Eye movements and hand kinematics of 20 young (20–38 yr) and 20 older (65–85 yr) adults were recorded during 9-Hole Pegboard, Grooved Pegboard, and a visuospatial dual test. Results were compared with standardized tests of attention (The Test of Everyday Attention and Trail Making Test) that assess visual selective attention, sustained attention, attentional switching, and divided attention. Hand movement variability was 34% greater in older versus young adults when placing the pegs into the pegboard and this was associated with decreased pegboard performance, providing further evidence that increased movement variability plays a role in dexterity impairments in older adults. Older adults made more corrective saccades and spent less time gazing at the pegboard than young adults, suggesting altered visual strategies in older compared with young adults. The relationship between pegboard completion time and Trail Making Test B demonstrates an association between attentional deficits and age-related pegboard impairments. Results contribute novel findings of age-associated changes in eye movements during a commonly used manual dexterity task and offer insight into potential mechanisms underlying hand motor impairments in older adults.


Accepted version. Journal of Neurophysiology, Vol. 126, No. 5 (November 2021): 1710-1722. DOI. © 2021 American Physiological Society. Used with permission.

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