Measuring Change in Somatosensation Across the Lifespan Academic Article uri icon


  • The study aim was to determine natural variability in somatosensation across age groups using brief measures. We validated measures in a community-dwelling population as part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Toolbox for Assessment of Neurological and Behavioral Function (NIH Toolbox; included community-dwelling children and adults (N=367, ages 3-85 yr) across seven sites. We tested haptic recognition, touch detection-discrimination, and proprioception using brief affordable measures as required by the NIH Toolbox.Accuracy improved from young children to young adults; from young to older adults, the pattern reversed slightly. We found significant differences between adults and older adults. One proprioception test (kinesthesia; p=.003) showed gender differences (females more accurate). We provide expected score ranges for age groups as a basis for understanding age-related expectations for somatosensory perception.The age-related patterns of somatosensory perception from this study refine decision making about performance.


  • Dunn, W
  • Griffith, JW
  • Sabata, D
  • Morrison, MT
  • MacDermid, JC
  • Darragh, A
  • Schaaf, R
  • Dudgeon, B
  • Connor, LT
  • Carey, L
  • Tanquary, J

publication date

  • 2015