An Activation Likelihood Estimation Meta-Analysis Study of Simple Motor Movements in Older and Young Adults

Front Aging Neurosci. 2016 Oct 17;8:238. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2016.00238. eCollection 2016.


The functional neuroanatomy of finger movements has been characterized with neuroimaging in young adults. However, less is known about the aging motor system. Several studies have contrasted movement-related activity in older versus young adults, but there is inconsistency among their findings. To address this, we conducted an activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis on within-group data from older adults and young adults performing regularly paced right-hand finger movement tasks in response to external stimuli. We hypothesized that older adults would show a greater likelihood of activation in right cortical motor areas (i.e., ipsilateral to the side of movement) compared to young adults. ALE maps were examined for conjunction and between-group differences. Older adults showed overlapping likelihoods of activation with young adults in left primary sensorimotor cortex (SM1), bilateral supplementary motor area, bilateral insula, left thalamus, and right anterior cerebellum. Their ALE map differed from that of the young adults in right SM1 (extending into dorsal premotor cortex), right supramarginal gyrus, medial premotor cortex, and right posterior cerebellum. The finding that older adults uniquely use ipsilateral regions for right-hand finger movements and show age-dependent modulations in regions recruited by both age groups provides a foundation by which to understand age-related motor decline and motor disorders.

Keywords: PET; aging; fMRI; finger; meta-analysis; motor; movement; neuroimaging.