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Tomoko Aoki, Shinichi Furuya and Hiroshi Kinoshita

Using fast tapping tasks with each of the four fingers (single-finger tapping) and with two of the fingers used alternately (double-finger tapping), the ability to make rapid tapping movement by the individual fingers was compared between expert pianists and nonmusician controls in both genders. Maximal pinch and grasp forces were also measured to assess strength of individual fingers and whole hand, respectively. Movement of the ring and little fingers was slower than that of the index and middle fingers in both the pianists and controls. The slowness of the ring and little fingers was, however, much less evident in the pianists than the controls in both tapping tasks. The pianists also had smaller intertap interval variability for the index and middle fingers. No pianist–control difference was found for the pinch and grasp forces. Piano training, therefore, effectively changed the ability to move individual fingers rapidly, but not their flexor strength. No gender difference was found in any of the tapping tasks though males had greater strength. Gender thus does not appear to be a factor differentiating the ability to move individual fingers rapidly.

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Tomoko Aoki, Hayato Tsuda and Hiroshi Kinoshita

The purpose of this study was to examine finger motor function in terms of temporal and force characteristics during rapid single-finger tapping in older adults. Ten older and 10 young males performed maximum frequency tapping by the index, middle, ring, or little finger. Nontapping fingers were maintained in contact with designated keys during tasks. Key-contact force for each of the fingers was monitored using four force transducers. The older subjects had slower tapping rates of all fingers during single-finger tapping than the young subjects. The average forces exerted by the nontapping fingers were larger for the older subjects than for the young subjects during tapping with the ring and little fingers. The ranges of the nontapping finger forces were larger for the older subjects during tapping by the middle, ring, and little fingers than for the young subjects. Thus, the motor abilities of the fingers evaluated by rapid single-finger tapping decline in older adults compared with young adults in terms of both movement speed and finger independence.