Aging and movement control: the neural basis of age-related compensatory recruitment

Stephan P Swinnen, Sofie Heuninckx, Annouchka Van Impe, Daniel J Goble, James Peter Coxon, Nicole Wenderoth

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


When older as compared to younger adults perform motor tasks, their brain activation patterns are substantially different. Even though reduced activation may occur in certain brain areas, current evidence points to higher activation, either in some of those areas that are also activated in younger subjects or in additionally recruited areas. With respect to coordination of the ipsilateral hand and foot, increased activation is observed in brain regions involved in motor coordination, sensory processing/integration, visual imagery strategies, and cognitive monitoring. This increased neural recruitment points to a shift from automatic to controlled processing of movement in aging adults. Evidence suggests that the increased activation in some (but not all) brain areas is correlated with better performance. This indicates that altered brain function in the elderly can be compensatory, possibly reflecting neuroplastic changes. A better understanding of these age-related changes in the central nervous system is an important goal for future research and will require a detailed study of interactions between brain function, structure, and sensorimotor behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMotor Control: Theories, Experiments, and Applications
EditorsFrederic Danion, Mark Latash
Place of PublicationOxford United Kingdom
PublisherOxford University Press
Pages1 - 34
Number of pages34
ISBN (Print)9780195395273
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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