Reduced Facilitation of Parietal-Motor Functional Connections in Older Adults

Front Aging Neurosci. 2021 Feb 1:13:595288. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2021.595288. eCollection 2021.


Age-related changes in cortico-cortical connectivity in the human motor network in older adults are associated with declines in hand dexterity. Posterior parietal cortex (PPC) is strongly interconnected with motor areas and plays a critical role in many aspects of motor planning. Functional connectivity measures derived from dual-site transcranial magnetic stimulation (dsTMS) studies have found facilitatory inputs from PPC to ipsilateral primary motor cortex (M1) in younger adults. In this study, we investigated whether facilitatory inputs from PPC to M1 are altered by age. We used dsTMS in a conditioning-test paradigm to characterize patterns of functional connectivity between the left PPC and ipsilateral M1 and a standard pegboard test to assess skilled hand motor function in 13 young and 13 older adults. We found a PPC-M1 facilitation in young adults but not older adults. Older adults also showed a decline in motor performance compared to young adults. We conclude that the reduced PPC-M1 facilitation in older adults may be an early marker of age-related decline in the neural control of movement.

Keywords: aging; motor evoked potential; posterior parietal cortex (PPC); primary motor cortex (M1); transcrancial magnetic stimulation.