Motor Control and Aging: Links to Age-Related Brain Structural, Functional, and Biochemical Effects

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2010 Apr;34(5):721-33. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2009.10.005. Epub 2009 Oct 20.

Abstract

Although connections between cognitive deficits and age-associated brain differences have been elucidated, relationships with motor performance are less well understood. Here, we broadly review age-related brain differences and motor deficits in older adults in addition to cognition-action theories. Age-related atrophy of the motor cortical regions and corpus callosum may precipitate or coincide with motor declines such as balance and gait deficits, coordination deficits, and movement slowing. Correspondingly, degeneration of neurotransmitter systems-primarily the dopaminergic system-may contribute to age-related gross and fine motor declines, as well as to higher cognitive deficits. In general, older adults exhibit involvement of more widespread brain regions for motor control than young adults, particularly the prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia networks. Unfortunately these same regions are the most vulnerable to age-related effects, resulting in an imbalance of "supply and demand". Existing exercise, pharmaceutical, and motor training interventions may ameliorate motor deficits in older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / pathology*
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology