The decrease in the quality of proprioceptive information arriving at the central nervous system (CNS) has been considered as one of the main factors that contribute to changes in the postural control in the elderly. A thorough investigation of the role of the proprioceptive system in postural control would require the assessment of both the peripheral and central parts of the nervous system involved in proprioception. The aim of this study is to investigate the contribution of cortical and subcortical structures and the contribution of afferent and efferent pathways to proprioceptive responses related do passive joint movement perception, investigating if neurophysiologic differences exist between young and old adults that could be correlated to changes in postural control performance in the elderly. Old and young adults will be assessed in their response to passive joint movement perception (muscle activation latency and somatosensory and pre-motor cortical activation following ankle movement). The leg H-reflex will also be evaluated quantitatively (spinal cord and nerve dynamics), and finally, the coupling between sensory information and motor action will be assessed using the "moving room" paradigm. The signals will be analyzed by routines developed in LabView and Matlab, followed by appropriate statistical analyses. The contribution of neurophysiologic variables to the proprioceptive and postural control performance will also be analyzed, aiming at a better knowledge of the neurophysiologic changes that occur with aging.
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