Ipsilateral coordination at preferred rate: effects of age, body side and task complexity

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

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40 Citations (Scopus)


Functional imaging studies have shown that elderly individuals activate widespread additional brain networks, compared to young subjects, when performing motor tasks. However, the parameters that effect this unique neural activation, including the spatial distribution of this activation across hemispheres, are still largely unknown. Here, we examined the effect of task complexity and body side on activation differences between older and younger adults while performing cyclical flexion-extension movements of the ipsilateral hand and foot. In particular, easy (isodirectional) and more difficult (non-isodirectional) coordination patterns were performed with either the left or right body side at a self-selected, comfortable rate. Even in the absence of imposed pacing the older group activated a larger brain network, suggestive of increased attentional deployment for monitoring the spatial relationships between the simultaneously moving segments and enhanced sensory processing and integration. Evidence of age-dependent underactivation was also found in contralateral M1, SMA and bilateral putamen, possibly reflecting a functional decline of the basal ganglia-mesial cortex pathway in the older group. An ANOVA model revealed significant main effects of task complexity and body side. However the interaction of these factors with age did not reach significance. Consequently, we conclude that under self-paced conditions, task complexity and body side did not have a modulatory effect on age-related brain activation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1854 - 1862
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

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