• EEG/ERP;
  • tactile perception;
  • somatosensory;
  • aging;
  • middle-age;
  • oddball


Tactile perception declines with age on both behavioral and neurophysiological levels. Less well understood is how neurophysiological changes relate to tactile discrimination performance in middle adulthood. A tactile discrimination task was conducted while ERPs were measured in three groups of healthy adults aged 20 to 66 years. Accuracy was lowest in late middle adulthood (56–66 years) while somatosensory ERP components (P50, N70, P100, N140) were comparable across age groups. The cognitive P300 revealed age-related differences in scalp distribution typical for older adults to already be present in late middle adulthood. Increased recruitment of frontal cognitive processes was positively related to performance in later middle adulthood. Our results further the understanding of age-related differences in tactile perception during middle adulthood and the importance of cognitive processes to compensate for age-related decline.