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Learning new visuo-motor gains at early and late working age

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Modern workplaces often require adaptation to novel visuo-motor transformations. Findings on age-related variations of such adaptation are rather inconsistent, suggesting that whether or not age-related impairments do occur depends on boundary conditions. This paper examined the hypotheses that age-related variations affect primarily strategic adjustments to novel transformations and can be found for complex (non-linear) transformations, but not for simple (linear) ones. After a practice period with linear and non-linear visuo-motor transformations, open-loop performance, after-effects and explicit knowledge were examined. Consistent with previous findings, older participants had longer movement times and shorter open-loop amplitudes, more so for long than for short target amplitudes. However, the study did not find any age-related variation of adaptation to a novel visuo-motor gain. Regarding adaptation to a non-linear transformation, the findings suggest slightly superior explicit knowledge of younger adults and the development of slightly more efficient closed-loop processes in the course of practice.
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Keywords: Adaptation; Ageing; Motor skill; Visuo-motor transformation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2007

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