Effects of age and expertise on tactile learning in humans

Reuter, Eva-Maria, Voelcker-Rehage, Claudia, Vieluf, Solveig and Godde, Ben (2014) Effects of age and expertise on tactile learning in humans. European Journal of Neuroscience, 40 3: 2589-2599. doi:10.1111/ejn.12629

Author Reuter, Eva-Maria
Voelcker-Rehage, Claudia
Vieluf, Solveig
Godde, Ben
Title Effects of age and expertise on tactile learning in humans
Journal name European Journal of Neuroscience   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0953-816X
Publication date 2014
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/ejn.12629
Open Access Status
Volume 40
Issue 3
Start page 2589
End page 2599
Total pages 11
Place of publication Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Publisher Blackwell Publishing
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Abstract Repetitive tactile stimulation is a well-established tool for inducing somatosensory cortical plasticity and changes in tactile perception. Previous studies have suggested that baseline performance determines the amount of stimulation-induced learning differently in specific populations. Older adults with lower baseline performance than young adults, but also experts, with higher baseline performance than non-experts of the same age, have been found to profit most from such interventions. This begs the question of how age-related and expertise-related differences in tactile learning are reflected in neurophysiological correlates. In two experiments, we investigated how tactile learning depends on age (experiment 1) and expertise (experiment 2). We assessed tactile spatial and temporal discrimination accuracy and event-related potentials (ERPs) in 57 persons of different age and expertise groups before and after a 30-min tactile stimulation intervention. The intervention increased accuracy in temporal (found in experiment 1) and spatial (found in experiment 2) discrimination. Experts improved more than non-experts in spatial discrimination. Lower baseline performance was associated with higher learning gain in experts and non-experts. After the intervention, P300 latencies were reduced in young adults and amplitudes were increased in late middle-aged adults in the temporal discrimination task. Experts showed a steeper P300 parietal-to-frontal gradient after the stimulation. We demonstrated that tactile stimulation partially reverses the age-related decline in late middle-aged adults and increases processing speed in young adults. We further showed that learning gain depends on baseline performance in both non-experts and experts. In experts, however, the upper limit for learning seems to be shifted to a higher level.
Keyword Aging
Meta plasticity
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences Publications
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Created: Thu, 04 Jun 2015, 14:24:09 EST by Sandrine Ducrot on behalf of School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences