Karlene K. Ball.

University Professor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
CH 415
(205) 934-2610

Research Interests: Psychology of Aging, Gerontology

Office Hours: By appointment


  • B.A., Indiana University, Psychology
  • M.S., Northwestern University, Psychology
  • Ph.D., Northwestern University, Psychology
  • Postdoc, Northwestern University, Psychology

Dr. Karlene Ball, University Professor and experimental psychologist, is the Director of the UAB Edward R. Roybal Center for Research on Applied Gerontology, funded by the National Institute on Aging, Associate Director of the university-wide Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging (formerly the Center for Aging), Associate Director of the Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research and Education, Professor in the Department of Neurobiology, a Senior Scientist in the Vision Research Center, a Senior Scientist in the Comprehensive Neuroscience Center, and a Senior Scientist in the Center for Exercise Medicine. Dr. Ball chaired the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Technical Group on Aging, and she is a member of the Transportation Research Board of the National Research Council.

She received a M.E.R.I.T. award from the National Institutes of Health to extend her basic research program on the everyday activity problems of older adults to the development of interventions to prevent or retard age-related declines. A further description of the UAB Roybal Center, along with its investigators, resources, and projects, may be found on the CRAG website.

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Research Interests

Dr. Ball’s research interest is visual and cognitive correlates of mobility difficulties among older adults, with an emphasis on driving skills. She has served frequently on expert panels charged with setting the vision standards for commercial and older drivers, and she has authored numerous publications on visual, attentional, and cognitive changes with age, as well as on the identification of at-risk older drivers. She is an internationally renowned expert on developmental change in cognition associated with aging, with discoveries that span the disciplines of cognitive psychology, human factors, injury prevention, basic and applied gerontology, vision science, and transportation research. Her cognitive interventions designed to maintain and improve everyday functioning in older adult have become the centerpiece of nationwide initiative to prevent decline in health-related quality of life, and have resulting in lower medical expenditures and safer mobility among older drivers.

Graduate Students

Pre-Doctoral Trainees: Primary Mentor

  • David Edwards, 1995 – 2001
  • Jerri D. Edward, 1995 – 2000
  • Kimberly Wood, 1997 – 2004
  • Lesley A. Ross, 2003 – 2007
  • Michelle L. Ackerman, 2003 – 2008
  • Sarah B. Viamonte, 2004 – 2009
  • Bridgett Hill Kennedy, 2005 – 2011
  • Jamie South, 2005 – 2007
  • Joan E.Dodson, 2009 – 2012
  • Pariya L. Fazeli Wheeler, 2008 – 2012
  • Caitlin Northcutt Pope, 2014 - Present
  • Tyler Bell, 2014 - Present

Pre-Doctoral Trainees: Mentor

  • Dan Lowery
  • Patricia Taylor Cooke
  • Chris Pierce
  • Rachel Dowler
  • John Putzke, 1996 – 1998
  • David E. Vance, 1997 – 2001
  • Tricia Wessel-Blaski, 1997 – 2001
  • Stephanie Chopko, 1998 – 2005
  • Laurie Zebley Darling, 1999 – 2004
  • Ben Barton, 2001 – 2005
  • Olivio J. Clay, 2001 – 2007
  • Leslie Keener, 2001 – 2006
  • Katrina Gilbert, 2002 – 2006
  • Kelli Netson, 2002 – 2008
  • Christopher Robinson, 2003 – 2004
  • Trina J. Dube, 2004 – 2008
  • Ozioma Okonkwo, 2004 – 2009
  • Janice Marceaux, 2007 – 2011
  • Nicole Webb, 2007- 2009
  • Andrea Sartori, 2008 – 2011
  • Timothy O’Brien, 2008 – 2011
  • Jaspreet Kaur, 2010 – 2013

Recent Courses

  • PY 710: Contemporary Issues

Select Publications

  • Ball, K., Owsley, C., Sloane, M.E., Roenker D.L. & Bruni, J.R. (1993). Visual attention problems as a predictor of vehicle crashes in older drivers. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 34, 3110-3123.
  • Ball, K., & Owsley, C. (1993). The Useful Field of View Test: A new Technique for evaluating age-related declines in visual function. Journal of the American Optometric Association, 64, 71-79.
  • Ball, K. (1997). Attentional problems and older drivers. Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders, 11(S1), 42-47.
  • Ball, K., Berch, D.B., Helmers, K.F., Jobe, J.B., Leveck, M.D., Marsiske M., Morris, J.N., Rebok, G.W., Smith, D.M., Tennstedt, S.L., Unverzagt, F.W., & Willis, S.L. for the ACTIVE Study Group.(2002). Effects of cognitive training interventions with older adults: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, 288(18), 2271-2281. PMCID: PMC2916176.
  • Ball, K. (2003). Real-world evaluation of visual function. Ophthalmology Clinics of North America, 16, 289-298. PMID: 12809164.
  • Ball, K., Roenker, D.L., Wadley, V.G., Edwards, J.D., Roth, D.L., McGwin, G., Raleigh, R., Joyce, J.J., Cissell G.M., & Dube, T. (2006). Can high-risk older drivers be identified through performance-based measures in a department of motor vehicles setting? Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 54, 77-84. PMID: 16420201.
  • Ball, K., Edwards, J.D., & Ross, L.A. (2007). The impact of speed of processing training on cognitive and everyday functions. Journals of Gerontology Series B, 62B, 19-31. PMCID: 17565162.
  • Edwards, J.D., Ross, L.A., Ackerman, M.A., Small, B.J., Ball, K., Dodson, J.E. & Bradley, S.A. (2008). Longitudinal predictors of driving cessation among older adults from the ACTIVE clinical trial. Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 63B, P6-P12. PMID: 18332196
  • Ball, K., Edwards, J.D., Ross, L.A., & McGwin, G. (2010). Cognitive training decreases motor vehicle collision involvement among older drivers. Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 58, 11, 2107-2113. PMCID: PMC3057872

Full list of published work

Academic Distinctions and Professional Societies

  • Ireland Award for Scholarly Distinction, 2008
  • Fellow, American Psychological Association, Applied Experimental Psychology, 1996
  • Nationwide Insurance Highway Safety Award, 1996
  • M.E.R.I.T. award from National Institute on Aging, 1994
  • University award for Research/Creativity, 1994
  • College award for Research/Creativity, 1994
  • College award for Research/Creativity, 1989
  • Phi Beta Kappa, 1974