Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 180, Issue 1, pp 123–137 | Cite as

Aging affects the predictive control of grip force during object manipulation

  • Frédéric Danion
  • Médéric Descoins
  • Reinoud J. Bootsma
Research Article


We examined the effects of aging on the predictive control of grip force during object manipulation under various external force fields. Participants rhythmically moved a hand-held object (m = 0.4 kg) in the horizontal plane under three experimental conditions: (1) with an elastic cord attached to the upper arm (ARM), (2) with the elastic cord attached to the object (OBJECT), and (3) without any elastic cord (NO ELAST). Performance was evaluated in terms of both metric and spectral characteristics of the grip force (GF) profile, in relation to the movement-induced variations in load at the object-finger interface (LFO). The performance of a group of 12 older adults (mean age = 66.3 years) was compared to the performance of a group of 12 young adults (mean age = 25.0 years), whose metric characteristics were reported earlier (Exp. Brain Res. 172:331, 2006). Although elderly participants exerted a larger mean GF, a tight linear coupling between GF and LFO was found for both groups in OBJECT. In ARM and NO ELAST, coefficients of cross-correlations were markedly lower, the more so for the elderly participants. Adjustments in GF occurred slightly in advance of variations in LFO in young adults (+7 ms) and somewhat delayed in the elderly (−26 ms). Spectral analyses revealed that in OBJECT, LFO and GF varied primarily at the frequency of movement. In ARM and NO ELAST, where LFO varied at twice this frequency, GF modulations contained a substantial frequency component at the frequency of movement, with this effect being more pronounced for the elderly participants. We conclude that both young and older adults demonstrate a predictive control of GF, capable of separating external force fields acting on the arm or on object–finger interface. However, in the presence of variations in LFO occurring at twice the frequency of movement, the spectral profile of GF exhibits a non-functional component of variation at the frequency of movement. Aging amplifies this latter effect, thereby affecting the efficiency of the predictive control of grip force.


Human Aging Grip force Coordination Internal models 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frédéric Danion
    • 1
  • Médéric Descoins
    • 1
  • Reinoud J. Bootsma
    • 1
  1. 1.CNRS, Faculté des Sciences du SportUniversité de la Méditerranée, UMR 6152 “Mouvement et Perception”Marseille cedex 09France

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