Adaptation to visuomotor rotations in younger and older adults

Psychol Aging. 2008 Mar;23(1):190-202. doi: 10.1037/0882-7974.23.1.190.


Adaptation to a visuomotor rotation is known to be impaired at older adult age. The authors examined whether the impairment is present already at preretirement age and whether it depends on the difficulty of the adaptation task. Moreover, the authors tested predictions of the hypothesis that the age-related impairment pertains primarily to strategic corrections and the explicit knowledge on which they are based but not to the acquisition of an (implicit) internal model of the novel visuomotor transformation. The authors found an age-related impairment of adaptation and explicit knowledge already at preretirement age but no age-related change of aftereffects. With an incremental simplification of the adaptation task, age-related changes were able to be eliminated. Individual differences of the quality of explicit knowledge were associated with differences of adaptation, but not of aftereffects. When age groups were matched by explicit knowledge, age-related impairments of adaptation largely disappeared. However, a reliable difference remained in one of the experiments, suggesting that other processes of adjustment to a visuomotor rotation might be affected by aging as well.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Awareness
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kinesthesis*
  • Knowledge of Results, Psychological
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orientation*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Practice, Psychological
  • Proprioception
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Sensory Deprivation