Effects of normal aging on visuo-motor plasticity

Neurobiol Aging. 2002 Jan-Feb;23(1):117-23. doi: 10.1016/s0197-4580(01)00264-0.


Normal aging is associated with declines in neurologic function. Uncompensated visual and vestibular problems may have dire consequences including dangerous falls. Visuo-motor plasticity is a form of behavioral neural plasticity, which is important in the process of adapting to visual or vestibular alteration, including those changes due to pathology, pharmacotherapy, surgery or even entry into microgravity or an underwater environment. To determine the effects of aging on visuo-motor plasticity, we chose the simple and easily measured paradigm of visual-motor rearrangement created by using visual displacement prisms while throwing small balls at a target. Subjects threw balls before, during and after wearing a set of prisms which displace the visual scene by twenty degrees to the right. Data obtained during adaptation were modeled using multilevel modeling techniques for 73 subjects, aged 20 to 80 years. We found no statistically significant difference in measures of visuo-motor plasticity with advancing age. Further studies are underway examining variable practice training as a potential mechanism for enhancing this form of behavioral neural plasticity.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Algorithms
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Neurological
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*