, Volume 193, Issue 2, pp 213-224
Date: 25 Oct 2008

Precision in isometric precision grip force is reduced in middle-aged adults

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We investigated age related changes in the control of precision grip in 29 healthy adults spanning early adulthood to middle age (21–67 years). Subjects performed a visually guided, isometric precision grip ramp-and-hold force-tracking task. Target force levels were 3, 6, and 9 N. Precision and performance of force regulation was quantified. Larger errors were made during the ramp than during the hold phase. Age correlated positively with the amount of error at the lowest (3 N) force level in both phases. Force onsets were systematically earlier in middle-aged subjects and the average slope of the force during the ramp decreased with increasing age. The results show that precision during low grip force control decreases already during middle age and those subjects may modify their force generation strategies to compensate for early and subtle degenerative changes in the motor system before decline in grip strength is apparent.