ASA 125th Meeting Ottawa 1993 May

4aBV3. When feeling is failing: The effects of aging on the sense of touch.

Ronald T. Verrillo

George A. Gesheider

Stanley J. Bolanowski

Kathryn E. Hoffman

Inst. for Sensory Res., Syracuse Univ., Syracuse, NY 13244-5290

The vast majority of reports in the literature concerning the psychophysical characteristics of touch is based on studies of college-aged persons. If the skin is to be utilized as a surrogate channel of communication for the profoundly deaf, it is essential that one know how aging affects the sense of vibrotaction. Life-span studies are rare indeed although there is a recent intensified interest in the sensory systems of elderly persons. Being reported are the results of a research program showing changes, from childhood to the elderly, of the threshold of detectability, suprathreshold responses, gap detection, and temporal and spatial summation. The Pacinian system shows a general decline with age and ``recruitment'' in the growth of sensation magnitude. Changes are also noted in gap detection and in the capacity to summate over time and space. [Work supported by NID CD-DC01243.]