High Frequency Sensory Stimulation Improves Tactile but Not Motor Performance in Older Adults

in Motor Control
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We examined the effect of high frequency tactile stimulation (tHFS) on tactile and motor performance as well as tactile-motor interactions. Seventeen right-handed participants (66–78 years) underwent a pretest (tactile frequency and spatial discrimination task, manual dexterity test, and precision grip task) with their left hand, received 30 min of tHFS on the tips of their left index finger and thumb, and performed a posttest (control group: no stimulation). Results indicated an improvement in frequency and spatial discrimination in the experimental but not the control group. In the precision grip task, however, training effects as found for the control group seem to be blocked in the experimental group. For the manual dexterity task no effect was found. Our data indicate that tHFS positively influences tactile performance. Assuming tHFS-induced plastic reorganization in somatosensory cortex our results give further evidence to the notion of an interrelation between sensory and motor performance.

The authors are with Jacobs University Bremen, Jacobs Center on Lifelong Learning and Institutional Development, Bremen, Germany.

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