Extensive occupational finger use delays age effects in tactileperception-an ERP study

Reuter, Eva-Maria, Voelcker-Rehage, Claudia, Vieluf, Solveig, Winneke, Axel H. and Godde, Ben (2014) Extensive occupational finger use delays age effects in tactileperception-an ERP study. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, 76 4: 1160-1175. doi:10.3758/s13414-014-0634-2

Author Reuter, Eva-Maria
Voelcker-Rehage, Claudia
Vieluf, Solveig
Winneke, Axel H.
Godde, Ben
Title Extensive occupational finger use delays age effects in tactileperception-an ERP study
Journal name Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1943-3921
Publication date 2014-01-01
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3758/s13414-014-0634-2
Volume 76
Issue 4
Start page 1160
End page 1175
Total pages 16
Place of publication New York, NY United States
Publisher Springer New York LLC
Language eng
Abstract Tactile expertise, resulting from extensive use of hands, has previously been shown to improve tactile perception in blind people and musicians and to be associated with changes in the central processing of tactile information. This study investigated whether expertise, due to precise and deliberate use of the fingers at work, relates to improved tactile perception and whether this expertise interacts with age. A tactile pattern and a frequency discrimination task were conducted while ERPs were measured in experts and nonexperts of two age groups within middle adulthood. Independently of age, accuracy was better in experts than in nonexperts in both tasks. Somatosensory N70 amplitudes were larger with increasing age and for experts than for nonexperts. P100 amplitudes were smaller in experts than in nonexperts in the frequency discrimination task. In the pattern discrimination task, P300 difference wave amplitude was reduced in experts and late middle-aged adults. In the frequency discrimination task, P300 was more equally distributed in late middle-aged adults. We conclude that extensive, dexterous manual work leads to acquisition of tactile expertise and that this expertise might delay, but not counteract, age effects on tactile perception. Comparable neurophysiological changes induced by age and expertise presumably have different underlying mechanisms. Enlarged somatosensory N70 amplitudes might result from reduced inhibition in older adults but from enhanced, specific excitability of the somatosensory cortex in experts. Regarding P300, smaller amplitudes might indicate fewer available resources in older adults and, by contrast, a reduced need to engage as much cognitive effort to the task in experts.
Keyword Aging
Somatosensory perception
Touch perception
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: Fri, 05 Jun 2015, 00:29:12 EST by Sandrine Ducrot on behalf of School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences