Purpose: To determine the contribution of visuomotor correction to increased force fluctuations in the elbow flexor and knee extensor muscles of elderly adults.
Methods: Young (N = 22, 23 ± 3 yr) and elderly (N = 23, 74 ± 7 yr) adults performed constant-force contractions at target forces of 2.5, 30, and 65% MVC. Visual feedback was provided (6-8 s) and then removed (6-8 s). After removal of drift (< 0.5 Hz) from the force, the standard deviation (SD) and coefficient of variation (CV) of force were calculated from vision and no-vision data.
Results: Maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) force was 19% lower for elbow flexors and 37% lower for knee extensors in elderly adults than in young adults. Overall, the CV of force was 27% greater in the vision condition compared with the no-vision condition. The CV of force for vision was greater for elderly adults than for young adults at the 2.5% MVC target force and lower at 30 and 65% MVC. For the 2.5% MVC target force, the decline in CV of force from vision to no vision was greater for elderly adults than for young adults. At 30 and 65% MVC, the decline was significant but similar for young and elderly adults. For elbow flexors, the change in power from vision to no vision was greater for 0- to 4-Hz (reduced power) and 8- to 12-Hz (increased power) frequencies for elderly adults compared with young adults.
Conclusion: Visuomotor correction contributed to force fluctuations in large proximal muscles. The contribution was greater for healthy elderly adults at low forces. Visuomotor processes thus contributed to the age-related increase in force fluctuations.