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The Effects of Ageing on Tactile Function in Humans

McIntyre, S, Nagi, SS, McGlone, FP and Olausson, H (2021) The Effects of Ageing on Tactile Function in Humans. Neuroscience, 464. pp. 53-58. ISSN 0306-4522

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Ageing is accompanied by a steady decline in touch sensitivity and acuity. Conversely, pleasant touch, such as experienced during a caress, is even more pleasant in old age. There are many physiological changes that might explain these perceptual changes, but researchers have not yet identified any specific mechanisms. Here, we review both the perceptual and structural changes to the touch system that are associated with ageing. The structural changes include reduced elasticity of the skin in older people, as well as reduced numbers and altered morphology of skin tactile receptors. Effects of ageing on the peripheral and central nervous systems include demyelination, which affects the timing of neural signals, as well as reduced numbers of peripheral nerve fibres. The ageing brain also undergoes complex changes in blood flow, metabolism, plasticity, neurotransmitter function, and, for touch, the body map in primary somatosensory cortex. Although several studies have attempted to find a direct link between perceptual and structural changes, this has proved surprisingly elusive. We also highlight the need for more evidence regarding age-related changes in peripheral nerve function in the hairy skin, as well as the social and emotional aspects of touch.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Science & Technology; Life Sciences & Biomedicine; Neurosciences; Neurosciences & Neurology; ageing; touch; peripheral nervous system; central nervous system; affective touch; skin; human; MULTIUNIT NEURAL RESPONSES; FINGER PULP VIBRATION; AGE-RELATED-CHANGES; SPATIAL ACUITY; HUMAN-SKIN; SENSORY INNERVATION; HAIRY SKIN; TOUCH; THRESHOLDS; AFFERENTS; Somatosensory Cortex; Skin; Humans; Physical Stimulation; Aging; Aged; Touch Perception; affective touch; ageing; central nervous system; human; peripheral nervous system; skin; touch; Aged; Aging; Humans; Physical Stimulation; Skin; Somatosensory Cortex; Touch Perception; Neurology & Neurosurgery; 1109 Neurosciences; 1701 Psychology; 1702 Cognitive Sciences
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Divisions: Psychology (from Sep 2019)
Publisher: Elsevier
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2022 10:43
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2022 10:45
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2021.02.015
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/17055
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