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College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences

Faculty and Staff Profile

Lesley Ross

Professor and SmartState/SmartLife Endowed Chair in Aging and Cognition
Director of the Institute for Engaged Aging


Phone: (864) 656-6746

Fax: (864) 656-0358

Vita: View

Personal Website:

Educational Background

Ph.D. Lifespan Developmental Psychology
University of Alabama at Birmingham 2007

M.Ed. Secondary Education
University of Montevallo 2003

M.A. Lifespan Developmental Psychology
University of Alabama at Birmingham 2006

B.A. Psychology; French
University of Montevallo B.A.

Courses Taught

Adult Development and Aging
Honors Research Methods
Honors Professional Development
Developmental Psychology
Introduction to Psychology

Professional Development
Cognitive Aging, Assessment and Intervention
Successful Aging


Dr. Ross is an the SmartLife Endowed Chair of Aging and Cognition, Director of the Institute for Engaged Aging, Co-director of the Study for Healthy Aging & Applied (SHAARP) lab, and a Professor of Psychology. She joined Clemson University’s Department of Psychology in 2020. Prior to joining Clemson, she was an associate professor and director of the PhD program in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the Pennsylvania State University and an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Ross is an active member of the Gerontological Society of America, National Academies’ Transportation Research Board (TRB) and the former chair of the TRB’s Committee of Safe Mobility for Older Persons. She has multiple funded projects through the support of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the US Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA). Her main research focus is the development of methods to maintain healthy brain aging, mobility, and independence for older adults.

Research Interests

I have a multidisciplinary background with expertise in cognitive aging, interventions to maintain healthy aging, human factors, and applied everyday outcomes such as mobility and driving. My overall research goal is to understand and improve the health and everyday functioning of older adults, the fastest growing segment of the US population. To achieve this goal, I focus on two complementary research themes:

1. Elucidating Predictors of Everyday Function of Older Adults – I am interested in identifying the predictors and best methods to assess changes in cognitive, health, and everyday outcomes (e.g., driving, instrumental activities of daily living, mobility, balance, etc.) among older adults. Better understanding of these trajectories allows me to identify possible modifiable targets and key time points for interventions that may slow health and cognitive decline. Research projects within this first theme have included: driving mobility and safety in teens and older adults; driver licensing policies; cognitive, mental and physical health in older adults; cognitive functioning in adults with HIV, cancer, and Mild Cognitive Impairment; and neuropsychological performance of older adults. My work in this area has been funded by the National Institutes on Health, the Alabama Department of Transportation, and the US Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA)/University Transportation Centers, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The translation of this first line of research into evidence-based interventions is the focus of my second line of research.

2. Identifying Methods to Maintain Brain Health and Everyday Function in Older Adults – I am interested in behavioral interventions, primarily cognitive, exercise, and multimodal, that demonstrate real-world transfer to an activity of daily living, cognitive performance, or health. This can include (but is not limited to) interventions that reduce depression, maintain driving safety, or maintain the ability of an individual to age within his or her own home.

One area that is demonstrating great promise are some cognitive training programs. One such computerized program, often called Processing Speed Training, Divided Attention Training, or UFOV training, has shown to transfer to maintained or improved everyday health and activities in older adults. These everyday outcomes have included maintained health and reduced health expenditures, reduced risk of depression, fewer at-fault vehicular crashes and safer driving, prolonged driving mobility, improved cognitive function, and improved Instrumental Activities of Daily Living.

I am the PI on two projects investigating the daily behavioral and biological mechanisms underlying different cognitive training programs using mobile ecological assessments, wearables, biomarkers, and fMRI. Of particular interest are currently marketed technologies that may be used to enhance the cognitive, health, and everyday functioning of a range of populations throughout the lifespan. This work is primarily funded by the National Institute on Aging.

Further details and my CV can be found on my lab webpage at:
SHAARP: The Study of Healthy Aging & Applied Research Programs lab

Research Publications

Selected Publications
*Indicates student author; †Indicates postdoctoral fellow

*Sprague, B. N., Ross, L. A., & Ball, K. (2023). Does cognitive training reduce falls across ten years: A randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(6), 4941 doi: 10.3390/ijerph20064941

Pope, C. N., *Wheeler, K. M., Bell, T. R., Carroll, B. E., Ross, L. A., Crowe, M., Black, S. R., Clay, O. J., & Ball, K. K. (2023). Social and Neighborhood Context Moderates the Associations between Processing Speed and Driving Mobility: A 10-year Analysis of the ACTIVE study. Journal of Aging and Health, ACTIVE 20-Year Follow-up Study Supplemental Issue.

*Freed, S. A., Ross, L. A., Mogle, J., Gamaldo, A. A., & Zhang, Y. (2023). Driver license renewal requirements predict driving mobility among older drivers with health-related travel difficulties. Transportation Research Record.

*Freed, S. A., †Sprague, B. N., & Ross, L. A. (in press). Does the association between objective and subjective memory vary by age among healthy older adults. Aging, Neuropsychology and Cognition. DOI: 10.1080/13825585.2022.2143471

Nicholson, J. S., Hudak, E.M., Phillips, C.B., Chanti-Ketterl, M., O’Brien, J.L., Ross, L.A., Lister, J.J., Burke, J.R., Potter, G., Plassman, B., Woods, A.J., Krischer, J. & Edwards, J.D. (2022). The Preventing Alzheimer’s with Cognitive Training (PACT) Randomized Controlled Trial, Contemporary Clinical Trials, 123, 1-8. doi. 10.1016/j.cct.2022.106978.

†Bell, T. R., †Sprague, B. N., & Ross, L. A. (2022). Longitudinal associations of incident pain with cognitive decline in community-dwelling older adults. Psychology & Aging,37(6), 715-730. DOI: 10.1037/pag0000699

*Chamberlain, J. D., †Sprague, B. N., & Ross, L. A. (2022). Age- and time-varying associations between subjective health and episodic memory in older adults. The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 77(4), 673-682.

*Freed, S. A., Sprague, B. N., *Stephan, A. T., *Doyle, C. E., *Tian, J., Phillips, C. B., & Ross, L. A. (2021). Feasibility and enjoyment of exercise video games in older adults. Frontiers in Public Health,9, 1-8. DOI:10.3389/fpubh.2021.751289

Byrne, K. A., *Anaraky, R. G., Dye, C., Ross, L. A., Madathil, K. C., Knijnenburg, B., & Levkoff, S. (2021). Examining rural and racial disparities in the relationship between loneliness and social technology use among older adults. Frontiers in Public Health, 9(723925). DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.723925

Ball, K. K., Clay, O. J., Edwards, J. D., Fausto, B., Wheeler, K. M., Felix, C., & Ross, L. A. (2021). Indicators of crash risk in older adults: A longitudinal analysis from the ACTIVE study. Journal of Aging and Health, 9(8982643211031346). doi: 10.1177/08982643211031346

*Freed, S. A., Ross, L. A., Gamaldo, A. A., & Stavrinos, D. (2021). Use of multilevel modeling to examine variability of distracted driving behavior in naturalistic driving studies. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 152(105986). DOI: 10.1016/j.aap.2021

*Fausto, B. A., Adorno Maldonado, P. F., Ross, L. A., Lavallière, M., & Edwards, J. D. (2021). A systematic review and meta-analysis of older driver interventions. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 149, 149(105852). doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2020.105852

*Sprague, B. N., †Phillips, C. B., & Ross, L. A. (2021). Cognitive training attenuates decline in physical function across 10 years. The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences,76(6), 1114-1124. DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gbaa072

Gamaldo, A. A., Sardina, A. L., *Tan, S. C., Ross, L. A., *Gerlin, L. A., *Knox, T. B., *Prawl, D., *Argueta Portillo, K. S., & Andel, R. (2020). Correlates of life satisfaction among middle-aged and older Black adults. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. DOI: 10.1007/s40615-020-00884-7

Gamaldo, A. A., *Tan, S. C., Sardina, A. L., *Henzi, C., *Guest, R., Ross, L. A., *Willingham, K., Zonderman, A. B., Andel, R. A. (2020). Older Black adults’ satisfaction and anxiety levels after completing alternative versus traditional cognitive batteries. Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences, 75(7), 1462-1474. DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gby095

*Sprague, B. N., *Freed, S. A., †Phillips, C. B., & Ross, L. A. (2020). A viewpoint on change point modeling for cognitive aging research: Moving from description to intervention and practice. Ageing Research Reviews, 58, 6pgs. DOI: 10.1016/j.arr.2019.101003

Ross, L. A., *Webb, C. E., *Whitaker, C., *Hicks, J. M., *Schmidt, E. L., *Samimy, S., Dennis, N. A., & Visscher, K. M. (2019). The effects of useful field of view training on brain activity and connectivity. Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences, 74(7), 1152-1162. DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gby041

*Sprague, B. N., *Freed, S. A., *Webb, C. E., †Phillips, C. B., * Hyun, J., & Ross, L. A. (2019). The impact of behavioral interventions on cognitive function in healthy older adults: A systematic review. Ageing Research Reviews, 52, 32-52. PMID:31002885. DOI: 10.1016/j.arr.2019.04.002

†Phillips, C. B., *Freed, S. A., & Ross, L. A. (2019). Older adult lifespace varies by driving status and residential population density. Transportation Research Record,267(7), 586-595. DOI: 10.1177/0361198119846092

*Sprague, B. N., †Phillips, C. B., & Ross, L. A. (2019). Age-varying relationships between physical function and cognition in older adulthood. Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences, 74(5), 772-784. DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gbx126

Ross, L. A., *Sprague, B. N., †Phillips, C. B., O’Connor, M. L., & Dodson, J. E. (2018). The impact of three cognitive training interventions on older adults’ physical functioning across five years. Journal of Aging and Health,30(3), 475-498. DOI: 10.1177/0898264316682916

Edwards, J. D., Xu, H., Clark, D. O., Guey, L. T., Ross, L. A., & Unverzagt, F. W. (2017). Speed of processing training results in lower risk of dementia: Results from the ACTIVE study. Alzheimer's & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions, 3(4), 603-611. DOI: 10.1016/j.trci.2017.09.002

Ross, L. A., *Freed, S. A., Edwards, J. D., †Phillips, C. B., & Ball, K. (2017). The impact of three cognitive training programs on driving cessation across ten years: A randomized controlled trial. The Gerontologist, 57(5), 838-846. DOI: 10.1093/geront/gnw143. PMCID: PMC5881723

*Pope, C. N., Ross, L. A., & Stavrinos, D. S. (2016). Association between executive function and problematic adolescent driving. The Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 37(9), 702-711. DOI: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000353. PMCID: PMC5089921

†Phillips, C.B., *Sprague, B. N., *Freed, S. A., & Ross, L. A. (2016). Longitudinal associations between changes in physical function and driving mobility behaviors among older adults. Transportation Research Record: Transportation Research Board of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2584, 70-76. DOI: 10.3141/2584-09. PMCID: PMC5200951

*Burge, W., *Griffis, J. C., Nenert, R., Elkhetali, A., DeCarlo, D. K., ver Hoef, L. W., Ross, L. A., & Visscher, K. M. (2016). Cortical thickness in human V1 associated with central vision loss. Scientific Reports, 6, 23268. DOI: 10.1038/srep23268. PMCID: PMC4806312

*Parr, M. N., Ross, L. A., *McManus, B., *Bishop, H. J., *Wittig, S. M. O., & Stavrinos, D. (2016). Differential impact of personality traits on distracted driving behaviors in teens and older adults. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 92, 107-112. DOI: 10.1016/j.aap.2016.03.011

*Schmidt, E. S., *Burge, W., Visscher, K. M., & Ross, L. R. (2016). Cortical thickness in fronto-parietal and cingulo-opercular networks predicts executive function performance in older adults. Neruopsychology, 30(3), 322-331. DOI: 10.1037/neu0000242. PMCID: PMC4767555

Ross, L. A., Edwards, J. D., O’Connor, M. L., Ball, K. K., Wadley, V. G., & Vance, D. E. (2016). The transfer of cognitive speed of processing training to older adults’ driving mobility across five years. Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences, 71(1), 87-97. DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gbv022. PMCID: PMC4701127

*Layfield S., *Burge W., Mitchell W., Ross L.A., *Denning C., Amthor F., Visscher K. (2014). The Effect of Speed of Processing Training on Microsaccade Amplitude. PLOS ONE, 9(9), 1-6 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107808. PMCID: PMC4172603

Vance, D. E., Fazeli, P. L., Ball, D. A., Slater, L. Z., & Ross, L. A. (2014). Cognitive functioning and driving simulator performance in middle-aged and older adults with HIV. Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, 25(2), e11-e26. DOI: 10.1016/j.jana.2013.12.001. PMCID: PMC3939674

*Fazeli, P. L., Crowe, M. G., Ross, L. A., Wadley, V., Ball, K. K., & Vance, D. E. (2014). Cognitive functioning in adults aging with HIV: A cross-sectional analysis of cognitive subtypes and influential factors. Journal of Clinical Research in HIV AIDS and Prevention, 1(4), 1-15. DOI: 10.14302/issn.2324-7339.jcrhap-13-191. PMCID: PMC4224145

*Burge, W. K., Ross, L. A., Amthor, F. R., Mitchell, W. G., Zotov, A., & Visscher, K. M. (2013). Processing speed training increases the efficiency of attentional resource allocation in young adults. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience,7(684), 1-7. DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00684. PMCID: PMC3799007

Ball, K., Ross, L. A., Edwards, J., & Roth, D. (2013). Speed of Processing Training in the ACTIVE Study: Who Benefits? The Journal of Aging and Health, 25(8), 65S-84S. DOI: 10.1177/0898264312470167. PMCID: PMC3947605

*Fazeli, P. L., Ross, L. A., Vance, D. E., & Ball, K. (2013). The Relationship Between Computer Experience and Computerized Cognitive Test Performance Among Older Adults. Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences,68(3), 337-346. DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gbs071. PMCID: PMC3627654

Ross, L. A., *Schmidt, E., & Ball, K. K. (2013). Interventions to Maintain Mobility: What Works. Accident Analysis and Prevention,61, 167-196. DOI: 10.1016/j.aap.2012.09.027 PMCID: PMC3633644

Vance, D. E., *Fazeli, P. L., Ross, L. A., Wadley, V., & Ball, K. (2012). Speed of processing training with middle-aged and older adults with HIV: A pilot study. Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care,23,(6),500-510. DOI: 10.1016/j.jana.2012.01.005. PMCID: PMC3422374

Ross, L. A., *Dodson, J., Edwards, J. D., Ackerman, M. L & Ball, K. K. (2012). Self-rated driving and driving safety in older adults. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 48, 523-527. DOI: 10.1016/j.aap.2012.02.015. PMCID: PMC3387731

Burns, R. A., Butterworth, P., Windsor, T. D., Luszcz, M., Ross, L. A., & Anstey, K. J. (2011). Deriving prevalence estimates of depressive symptoms throughout middle and old age in those living in the community. International Psychogeriatrics, 24, 503-511. DOI: 10.1017/S1041610211002109. PMCID: PMC3882019

Anstey, K. J., Bielak, A., Birrell, C., Browning, C. J., Burns, R. A., Kiely, K. M., Nepal, B., Ross, L. A., Steel, D., Windsor, T. D., and the DYNOPTA team. (2011). Understanding ageing in older Australians: The contribution of the Dynamic Analyses to Optimise Ageing (DYNOPTA) project to the evidence base and policy. Australasian Journal on Ageing, 30(2), 24-31. DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-6612.2011.00533.x. PMCID: PMC3947607

Ross, L. A., Vance, D., Ball, K., Cak, L., Ackerman, M. L., Benz, D., & Ball, D. (2011). Translating laboratory measures to real-world outcomes: Application of the UFOV test in an insurance company setting. Proceedings of the Sixth International Driving Symposium on Human Factors in Driving Assessment, Training and Vehicle Design, 1-7

Ross, L. A., Browning, C., Luszcz, M. A., Mitchell, P. & Anstey, K. J. (2011). Age-based testing for driver’s license renewal: Potential implications for older Australians. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 59, 281-285. DOI: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.03241.x. PMCID: PMC3065853

Honors and Awards

Selected Honors and Awards
SmartLife Endowed Chair in Aging and Cognition, Clemson University; 2020

Evelyn R. Saubel Faculty Award, College of Health and Human Development, Pennsylvania State University; 2017

Fellow for The Gerontological Society of America, May 2016

The University of Montevallo’s 2012 Nathalie Molton Gibbons Young Achiever’s Award


Lab Website

College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences
College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences | 116 Edwards Hall