Age-dependent changes in the neural correlates of force modulation: an fMRI study

Neurobiol Aging. 2008 Sep;29(9):1434-46. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2007.04.017. Epub 2007 Jun 12.


Functional imaging studies in humans have demonstrated widespread age-related changes in cortical motor networks. However, the relative contribution of cortical regions during motor performance varies not only with age but with task parameters. In this study, we investigated whether motor system activity during a task involving increasingly forceful hand grips was influenced by age. Forty right-handed volunteers underwent functional magnetic brain imaging whilst performing repetitive isometric hand grips with either hand in separate sessions. We found no age-related changes in the average size and shape of the task-related blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal in contralateral primary motor cortex (M1), but did observe reduced ipsilateral M1 deactivation in older subjects (both hands). Furthermore, task-related activity co-varied positively with force output in a number of brain regions, but was less prominent with advancing age in contralateral M1, cingulate sulcus (both hands), sensory and premotor cortices (right hand). These results indicate that a reduced ability to modulate activity in appropriate motor networks when required may contribute to age-related decline in motor performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Task Performance and Analysis