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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 653437, 7 pages
Research Article

Effects of Aging and Tai Chi on a Finger-Pointing Task with a Choice Paradigm

1Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong
2Department of Physical Therapy, College of Applied Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

Received 21 November 2012; Accepted 14 January 2013

Academic Editor: Ching Lan

Copyright © 2013 William W. N. Tsang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. This cross-sectional study examined the effect of aging on performing finger-pointing tasks involving choices and whether experienced older Tai Chi practitioners perform better than healthy older controls in such tasks. Methods. Thirty students and 30 healthy older controls were compared with 31 Tai Chi practitioners. All the subjects performed a rapid index finger-pointing task. The visual signal appeared randomly under 3 conditions: (1) to touch a black ball as quickly and as accurately as possible, (2) not to touch a white ball, (3) to touch only the white ball when a black and a white ball appeared simultaneously. Reaction time (RT) of anterior deltoid electromyogram, movement time (MT) from electromyogram onset to touching of the target, end-point accuracy from the center of the target, and the number of wrong movements were recorded. Results. Young students displayed significantly faster RT and MT, achieving significantly greater end-point accuracy and fewer wrong movements than older controls. Older Tai Chi practitioners had significantly faster MT than older controls. Conclusion. Finger-pointing tasks with a choice paradigm became slower and less accurate with age. Positive findings suggest that Tai Chi may slow down the aging effect on eye-hand coordination tasks involving choices that require more cognitive progressing.