Aging-induced alterations in EEG spectral power associated with graded force motor tasks

Exp Brain Res. 2023 Mar;241(3):905-915. doi: 10.1007/s00221-023-06572-2. Epub 2023 Feb 20.


Background: It has been demonstrated that in young and healthy individuals, there is a strong association between the amplitude of EEG-derived motor activity-related cortical potential or EEG spectral power (ESP) and voluntary muscle force. This association suggests that the motor-related ESP may serve as an index of central nervous system function in controlling voluntary muscle activation Therefore, it may potentially be used as an objective marker to track changes in functional neuroplasticity due to neurological disorders, aging, and following rehabilitation therapies. To this end, the relationship between the band-specific ESP-combined spectral power of EEG oscillatory and aperiodic (noise) components-and voluntary elbow flexion (EF) force has been analyzed in elder and young individuals.

Methods: 20 young (22.6 ± 0.87 year) and 28 elderly (74.79 ± 1.37 year) participants performed EF contractions at 20%, 50%, and 80% of maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) while high-density EEG signals were recorded. Both the absolute and relative ESPs were computed for the EEG frequency bands of interest.

Results: The MVC force generated by the elderly was foreseeably lower than that of the young participants. Compared to young, the elderly cohort's (1) total ESP was significantly lower for the high (80% MVC) force task; (2) relative ESP in beta band was significantly elevated for the low and moderate (20% MVC and 50% MVC) force tasks; (3) absolute ESP failed to have a positive trend with force for EEG frequency bands of interest; and (4) beta-band relative ESP did not exhibit a significant decrease with increasing force levels.

Conclusions: As opposed to young subjects, the beta-band relative ESP in elderly did not significantly decrease with increasing EF force values. This observation suggests the use of beta-band relative ESP as a potential biomarker for age-related motor control degeneration.

Keywords: Aging; EEG; EEG spectral power; Elbow flexion force; Voluntary motor task.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology
  • Elbow Joint*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal* / physiology