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Towards Establishing Age-Related Cortical Plasticity on the Basis of Somatosensation.

Hanley, C.J., Burianová, H. and Tommerdahl, M., 2019. Towards Establishing Age-Related Cortical Plasticity on the Basis of Somatosensation. Neuroscience, 404, 407 - 412.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2019.01.023


Age-related somatosensory processing appears to remain intact where tasks engage centrally- as opposed to peripherally-mediated mechanisms. This distinction suggests that insight into alterations in neural plasticity could be derived via metrics of vibrotactile performance. Such an approach could be used to support the early detection of global changes in brain health but current evidence is limited. Knowledge of the precise conditions in which older adults are expected to sustain somatosensory performance is largely unknown. For this purpose, the study aimed to characterize age-related performance on tactile detection and discrimination-based tests. Accordingly, a group of young and older adult participants took part in simple reaction time and amplitude discrimination tasks. Participants' ability to distinguish between stimuli on the basis of amplitude was assessed with and without dual-site adaptation, which has been proposed to refine cortical responses and improve behavioral performance. The results show that while older adults exhibited significantly prolonged (p < .001, d = 1.116) and more variable (p = .022, d = 0.578) information processing speed compared to young adults, they were able to achieve similar scores in baseline discrimination (p = .179, d = 0.336). We also report, for the first time, that older adults displayed similar performance improvements to young adults, under conditions of dual-site adaptation (p = .948, d = 0.016). The findings support the argument that centrally-mediated mechanisms remain intact in the ageing population. Accordingly, dual-site adaptation data provide compelling new evidence of somatosensation in ageing that will contribute towards the development of an assessment tool to ascertain pre-clinical, age-related changes in the status of cortical function.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:ageing; neural plasticity; somatosensory; vibrotactile adaptation; adaptation, physiological; adult; age factors; aged; discrimination, psychological; female; humans; middle aged; physical stimulation; reaction time; touch; touch perception; vibration
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:34378
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:04 Aug 2020 13:14
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:23


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