Jan 1, 1994

Influence of muscle activation dynamics on reaction time in the elderly

European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology
R D Lewis, J M Brown


The aim of this investigation was to determine whether age-related changes in the dynamics of muscle activation were, in part, responsible for longer reaction times (RT) in the elderly. A group of 12 young (mean age, 20.6 years) and 12 elderly (mean age, 64.3 years) women performed a series of ballistic forearm supination movements in response to an auditory stimulus while using a simple reaction time test. Surface electromyographic waveforms from biceps brachii (agonist) and pronator teres (antagonist) muscles were recorded, together with the angle-time curves representing the motion of the forearm, on to an IBM compatible microcomputer. The results showed that an age-related increase (P < 0.05) in motor reaction time (MRT) contributed to longer RT in the elderly. In addition, the longer (P < 0.05) MRTs in the elderly were associated with a significantly slower rate (P < 0.05) of biceps brachii muscle activation and a significantly increased proportion (P < 0.05) of the initial biceps brachii muscle burst required to initiate the movement. This data suggested that an important part of the slowing of motor behaviour, commonly observed with increasing age, may be due to either decreases in the ability of aged skeletal muscle to ...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Surface Electromyography
Reaction Time
Antagonist Muscle Action
Soleus Muscle Structure
Pronator Teres Muscle Structure
Biceps Brachii Muscle Structure

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