Critical decline in fine motor hand movements in human aging.
BACKGROUND: Slowing of motor movements in human aging is a well-known occurrence, but its biologic basis is poorly understood. Reliable quantitation may refine observations of this phenomenon to better aid research on this entity. METHODS: A panel equipped with timing sensors under computer control was used to measure upper extremity movement times in two groups of healthy individuals: adults younger than 60 years of age (n = 56; range, 18-58 years) and adults older than 60 years of age (n = 38; range, 61-94 years). RESULTS: Fine motor performance was better in the dominant hand (p = 0.0007) regardless of age. Adult and aged groups differed on two basic timing measures, which reflect coarse motor and fine motor performance (p < 0.0001). There were no gender differences on either measure. There was a strong effect of task difficulty with age on coarse motor (p < 0.01) and fine motor (p < 0.0001) measures. The fine motor measure of hand performance in healthy individuals correlated in a nonlinear fashion with age for more difficult tasks (r2 = 0.63) but showed a simple linear relation for less-demanding tasks (r2 = 0.5). CONCLUSION: This technique sensitively detects age-related motor performance decline in humans. There may be a critical period in late midlife when fine motor performance decline either begins or abruptly worsens.
Smith, CD; Umberger, GH; Manning, EL; Slevin, JT; Wekstein, DR; Schmitt, FA; Markesbery, WR; Zhang, Z; Gerhardt, GA; Kryscio, RJ; Gash, DM
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)