Aging, motor control, and the performance of computer mouse tasks

Michael W. Smith, Joseph Sharit, Sara J. Czaja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

186 Scopus citations


Because of the increased presence of computers in work and everyday life and the demographic 'graying' of America, there is a need for interface designs that promote accessibility for older people. This study examined age differences in the performance of basic computer mouse control techniques. An additional goal of the study was to examine the influence of age-related changes in psychomotor abilities on mouse control. A total of 60 participants in 3 age groups (20-39 years, 40-59 years, and 60-75 years) performed 4 target acquisition tasks (pointing, clicking, double-clicking, and dragging) using a computer mouse. The data indicated that the older participants had more difficulty performing mouse tasks than the younger participants. Differences in performance attributable to age were found for the more complex tasks (clicking and double-clicking). Furthermore, age-related changes in psychomotor abilities were related to age differences in performance. We discuss applications to computer interface designs. Actual or potential applications of this research include specifications for computer mouse design to accommodate older populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-396
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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