3 years ago

Relative cortico-subcortical shift in brain activity but preserved training-induced neural modulation in older adults during bimanual motor learning

To study age-related differences in neural activation during motor learning, functional magnetic resonance imaging scans were acquired from 25 young (mean 21.5-year old) and 18 older adults (mean 68.6-year old) while performing a bimanual coordination task before (pretest) and after (posttest) a 2-week training intervention on the task. We studied whether task-related brain activity and training-induced brain activation changes differed between age groups, particularly with respect to the hyperactivation typically observed in older adults. Findings revealed that older adults showed lower performance levels than younger adults but similar learning capability. At the cerebral level, the task-related hyperactivation in parietofrontal areas and underactivation in subcortical areas observed in older adults were not differentially modulated by the training intervention. However, brain activity related to task planning and execution decreased from pretest to posttest in temporo-parieto-frontal areas and subcortical areas in both age groups, suggesting similar processes of enhanced activation efficiency with advanced skill level. Furthermore, older adults who displayed higher activity in prefrontal regions at pretest demonstrated larger training-induced performance gains. In conclusion, in spite of prominent age-related brain activation differences during movement planning and execution, the mechanisms of learning-related reduction of brain activation appear to be similar in both groups. Importantly, cerebral activity during early learning can differentially predict the amplitude of the training-induced performance benefit between young and older adults.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0197458017302002

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