Behavioural Brain Research vol:136 issue:2 pages:593-603
The present study addressed whether dynamic position sense at the ankle--or sense of position and velocity during movement--shows a similar decline as a result of aging as previously described for static position sense and movement detection threshold. Additionally, the involvement of muscle spindle afferents in the possible age-related decline was studied. To assess dynamic position sense, blindfolded subjects had to open the hand briskly when the right ankle was rotating passively through a prescribed target angle. To assess the involvement of muscle spindles, the effect of tibialis anterior vibration was studied. The results showed that aging lead to a significant increase in deviation from the target angle at hand opening as well as in variability of performance. Vibration resulted in larger undershoot errors in the elderly compared to the young adults, suggesting that the age-related decline in performance on the dynamic position sense task is not (solely) due to muscle spindle function changes. Alternatively, this degeneration might be due to altered input from other sources of proprioceptive input, such as skin receptors. The elderly subjects did show a beneficial effect of practice with the task, which may provide solid fundaments for rehabilitation.