Studies have shown that people with Alzheimer’s disease are more inconsistent, compared to healthy older adults, on cognitive tasks (e.g., memory, reaction time). Research in this area has measured fluctuations in performance on multiple occasions over short periods of time. What is not clear is how these inconsistencies affect people’s daily lives. Various factors — including cognitive, visual and perceptual abilities, language and speed of processing — influence functional abilities. Catherine Burton is studying the impact of inconsistent cognitive performance on ability to perform everyday activities, such as managing finances and taking medications. Her research could help characterize the neural systems required for particular cognitive processes, which would assist in identifying people most at risk and in need of support.