It remains controversial whether aging influences motor learning and whether physiological factors, such as local strength or fitness, are associated with fine motor performance and learning in older adults (OA). OA (n = 51) and young adults (YA, n = 31) performed a short-term motor learning session using a precision grip force modulation task. The rate of improvement of OA compared with YA was steeper with respect to performance variability and temporal precision. Both age groups showed positive transfer during an unpracticed variant of the force modulation task. Local muscle strength (pinch and grip strength) and high cardiovascular fitness positively predicted fine motor performance, whereas initial performance, muscle strength, and motor fitness (heterogeneous motor test battery) negatively predicted rate of improvement. Analyses indicated potentials, but also limits of plasticity for OA.
Hübner and Voelcker-Rehage are with the Institute of Human Movement Science and Health, Chemnitz University of Technology, Chemnitz, Germany. Hübner, Godde, and Voelcker-Rehage are with Jacobs Center on Lifelong Learning and Institutional Development, Jacobs University Bremen, Bremen, Germany. Vieluf is with the Institute of Sports Medicine, Paderborn University, Paderborn, Germany. Godde is with the Department of Psychology & Methods, Jacobs University Bremen, Bremen, Germany.