Presbypropria: the effects of physiological ageing on proprioceptive control
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Several changes in the human sensory systems, like presbycusis or presbyopia, are well-known to occur with physiological ageing. A similar change is likely to occur in proprioception, too, but there are strong and unexplained discrepancies in the literature. It was proposed that assessment of the attentional cost of proprioceptive control could provide information able to unify these previous studies. To this aim, 15 young adults and 15 older adults performed a position matching task in single and dual-task paradigms with different difficulty levels of the secondary task (congruent and incongruent Stroop-type tasks) to assess presumed age-related deficits in proprioceptive control. Results showed that proprioceptive control was as accurate and as consistent in older as in young adults for a single proprioceptive task. However, performing a secondary cognitive task and increasing the difficulty of this secondary task evidenced both a decreased matching performance and/or an increased attentional cost of proprioceptive control in older adults as compared to young ones. These results advocated for an impaired proprioception in physiological ageing.
KeywordsElderly Proprioception Joint position sense Attention Sensory integration Dual task
The study was supported by the Cluster Handicap Vieillissement Neurosciences of the Région Rhône-Alpes, France. We thank all participants for their kindness, the association Mieux vieillir chez soi à La Tronche, the anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions, J.B. Mignardot for support in graphics and A. Franco and T. Michel for giving rise to the idea of this research study.
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