Cognitive aging affects motor performance and learning

Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2013 Jan;13(1):19-27. doi: 10.1111/j.1447-0594.2012.00914.x. Epub 2012 Jul 23.


Substantial evidence indicates that declines in cognitive and motor functioning are often observed when we age. The interdependence of cognition and behavior has been reported in a wide range of studies. However, research on the cognitive-motor associations in aging has been lacking. We review behavioral and neural characteristics of cognitive aging in relation to motor aging and aim to elucidate their interrelationships in an aging context. From a developmental view, we propose an integrative concept focusing on the dynamics of cognitive functioning, motor performance and skill acquisition. In the framework, representations and motor learning potential are closely related. and supported by distributed neural systems, which are less susceptible to functional declines in the aging process. Mostly supported by high-level areas, control processes, motor learning efficiency and motor performance are closely related. As high-level areas are more vulnerable during aging, control processes, motor learning efficiency and motor performance are substantially affected when one approaches late adulthood. Practical implications and future research directions are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*