Finger-pressing forces are produced by activation of the intrinsic hand muscles, which are finger specific, and the extrinsic muscles that connect to multiple fingers. We tested a hypothesis of greater weakening of intrinsic hand muscles with age and quantified associated indexes of finger interaction such as enslaving (force production by unintended fingers) and force deficit (loss of finger force in multifinger tasks compared with single-finger tasks). Twelve young (23-35 yr old) and 12 elderly (70-95 yr old) men and women performed single-finger and four-finger maximal pressing tasks, in which force was applied at the proximal phalanges (PP, the intrinsic muscles are major focal force generators) and at the distal phalanges (DP, the extrinsic muscles are focal force generators). The decline in the peak force with age was greater at PP (30%) than at DP (19%). Larger indexes of finger interaction were observed at PP (enslaving = 17.2 ± 9.4%, force deficit = 36.1 ± 11.1%) than at DP (enslaving = 14.9 ± 8.8%, force deficit = 27.7 ± 10.8%) across ages and genders. We conclude that intrinsic hand muscles show disproportionate weakening with age. The greater indexes of finger interaction in PP tests with greater involvement of intrinsic hand muscles suggest that the finger interactions are predominantly of a central origin across ages and genders.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physiology (medical)