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Mechanisms of tactile sensory deterioration amongst the elderly
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2018 (English)In: Scientific Reports, ISSN 2045-2322, E-ISSN 2045-2322, Vol. 8, no 1, article id 5303Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

It is known that roughness-smoothness, hardness-softness, stickiness-slipperiness and warm-cold are predominant perceptual dimensions in macro-, micro- and nano- texture perception. However, it is not clear to what extent active tactile texture discrimination remains intact with age. The general decrease in tactile ability induces physical and emotional dysfunction in elderly, and has increasing significance for an aging population. We report a method to quantify tactile acuity based on blinded active exploration of systematically varying micro-textured surfaces and a same-different paradigm. It reveals that elderly participants show significantly reduced fine texture discrimination ability. The elderly group also displays statistically lower finger friction coefficient, moisture and elasticity, suggesting a link. However, a subpopulation of the elderly retains discrimination ability irrespective of cutaneous condition and this can be related to a higher density of somatosensory receptors on the finger pads. Skin tribology is thus not the primary reason for decline of tactile discrimination with age. The remediation of cutaneous properties through rehydration, however leads to a significantly improved tactile acuity. This indicates unambiguously that neurological tactile loss can be temporarily compensated by restoring the cutaneous contact mechanics. Such mechanical restoration of tactile ability has the potential to increase the quality of life in elderly.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Nature Publishing Group, 2018. Vol. 8, no 1, article id 5303
National Category
Gerontology, specialising in Medical and Health Sciences
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URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-227499DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-23688-6ISI: 000430381100001PubMedID: 29674633Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85045892223OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-227499DiVA, id: diva2:1206918
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QC 20180518

Available from: 2018-05-18 Created: 2018-05-18 Last updated: 2018-05-18Bibliographically approved

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