Increased enslaving in elderly is associated with changes in neural control of the extrinsic finger muscles

M. Mirakhorlo*, H. Maas, H. E.J. Veeger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aging has consequences for hand motor control, among others affecting finger force enslaving during static pressing tasks. The aim of this study was to assess whether the extent of finger force enslaving changes with aging during a task that involves both static and dynamic phases. Ten right-handed young (22–30 years) and ten elderly subjects (67–79 years) were instructed to first exert a constant force (static phase) and then flex their index finger while counteracting constant resistance forces orthogonal to their fingertips (dynamic phase). The other fingers (non-instructed) were held in extension. EMG activities of the flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS) and extensor digitorum (ED) muscles in the regions corresponding to the index, middle and ring fingers together with their forces and position of index finger were measured. In both elderly and young, forces exerted by the non-instructed fingers increased (around 0.6 N for both young and elderly) during isotonic flexion of the index finger, but with a different delay of on average 100 ± 72 ms in elderly and 334 ± 101 ms in young subjects. Results also suggest different responses in activity of FDS and ED muscle regions of the non-instructed fingers to index finger flexion between elderly and young subjects. The enslaving effect was significantly higher in elderly than in young subjects both in the static (12% more) and dynamic (14% more) phases. These differences in enslaving can at least partly be explained by changes in neuromuscular control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1583-1592
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • Aging
  • EMG
  • Finger
  • Hand
  • Motor control


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