The contribution of proprioceptive acuity to upper limb motor performance in older and younger adults

Kitchen, Nick M. (2018). The contribution of proprioceptive acuity to upper limb motor performance in older and younger adults. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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As we get older there is an increase in the variability of upper limb movements which typically require greater reliance on online corrective mechanisms. However, the relative contribution of proprioceptive loss to the development of these impairments in the upper limb is not well understood. The work in this thesis aimed to address this by presenting a novel method of measuring upper limb proprioception using a 2D-robotic manipulandum with older and younger adults. We show that this task provides distinct measures from traditional methods, and that despite physically inactive older adults having larger systematic errors in judging limb position, this was not related to motor performance during rapid target reaching. Furthermore, there was also a null relationship with the extent of motor adaptation to novel field dynamics even when only proprioceptive information regarding the perturbation was available. We were unable to measure robust effects of ageing on proprioceptive acuity throughout the thesis, and suggest that the level of impairment may have been previously over-inflated due to task and population specific limitations as a result. Collectively, we found a limited role of proprioceptive loss in the presentation of age-related impairments in motor control.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: Medical Research Council
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology


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