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. 2009 Dec 11;1305:14-9.
doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2009.10.001. Epub 2009 Oct 9.

Age-related Relative Volume Preservation of the Dominant Hand Cortical Region

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Free PMC article

Age-related Relative Volume Preservation of the Dominant Hand Cortical Region

Leonardo Bonilha et al. Brain Res. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Aging is usually associated with a progressive difficulty in learning new skills. Similarly, the dexterity in the non-dominant hand is usually decreased with age, while the dominant hand maintains a relative preservation in agility. We investigated if age-related volume loss affects the hand areas asymmetrically by comparing structural measures of the dominant hand area versus the non-dominant area. We performed a region of interest analysis of T1-weighted images focusing on the sensorimotor cortex corresponding to the hand area. We evaluated images from young subjects (younger than 65 years of age, n=38, mean age=24+/-7 years) and senior subjects (65 years or older, n=61, mean age =73+/-6 years). We observed that older adults exhibited greater leftward gray matter asymmetry of sensorimotor cortex, due in large part to more pronounced age-related loss of gray matter in the right hemisphere. These results are consistent with evidence that disuse leads to atrophy and suggest that age-related declines in gray matter, and perhaps function, may be limited by increasing the use of the non-dominant hand.

Conflict of interest statement

5. Conflict of interest statement: There are no conflicts of interest associated with this study.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
We studied images from subjects pertaining to two distinct age groups, younger and older than 65 years.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Regions of interest located in the sensorimotor representation of the hand.
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
Areas where gray matter volume is reduced in the older group compared to the younger group. The scale bar represents Z scores. Images are in neurological convention.
Fig. 4
Fig. 4
Areas of progressive leftward (“hot”) and rightward (“cold”) asymmetry are shown in the left panel. The dashed contour represents the sensorimotor hand area. The right panel shows leftward asymmetry correlated with age, with the analysis focused in the hand area.
Fig. 5
Fig. 5
Left panel shows that the decline in gray matter volume is more intense in the right hemisphere hand area than in the left hemisphere. The right panel shows that the asymmetry index in the hand area is significantly smaller (therefore representing a leftward asymmetry) in older individuals, compared to younger individuals.

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