Age-related compensatory neural recruitment patterns during motor coordination
Leeftijdsgerelateerde compensatoire neurale recruteringspatronen tijdens motorische coordinatie
Heuninckx, Sofie; M9819034
It is well documented that normal aging is associated with a deterioration in motor functioning. In view of the current demographic evolution of society with an increasing proportion of elderly persons, major socio-economic benefits are associated with maintaining and/or increasing their functional independence and comfort of living. This requires a deeper understanding of the processes of neural aging associated with control of movement. With the increasing availability of brain imaging technologies, such as blood-oxygen-level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging (BOLD fMRI), aging research has primarily focused on the relationship between changes in behaviour and brain function. In the present doctoral project, fMRI was used to investigate age-related changes in the neural basis of cyclical isolated and coordinated hand- and/or foot movements. Overall, the findings suggest that older adults utilize a more elaborate brain network during motor performance than young adults, evenwhen performing the same motor task with the same behavioural outcome. This suggests that spared motor performance may be related to the ability of older adults to increase activation and/or to recruit new areas within motor and cognitive networks, and/or exhibit altered interactions among brain areas that form a specific network. In view of the positive correlation between increased brain activation and motor performance, it is contended that an age-related compensatory brain recruitment mechanismis at work. The present findings are encouraging in that they provide evidence for lifelong brain plasticity.