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Aging and brain plasticity: alterations in brain structure, function and connectivity in relation to complex motor behavior.

Here, we aim to advance our understanding of age-related changes in the brain and their consequences for movement control. Our basic premise is that alterations in motor functioning are constrained by functional, structural, and connectivity changes in the normally aging brain. To address this challenge, we will use an array of techniques including (a) behavioral paradigms to study complex motor tasks requiring cognitive control (b) state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to study brain function, structure, and connectivity, and (c) transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) techniques to study the status of inhibitory networks. Even though overall brain structure and function will be assessed, our focus is on the integrity of the corpus callosum (CC) because it is a central structure in the organization of complex brain functions that regulates the interactions between both hemispheres. Age-related changes in the CC parallel overall changes in the brain which are characterized by an anterior-posterior gradient in degeneration. Complex bimanual coordination tasks are studied for this purpose because they are sensitive to changes in the structural integrity of the CC and also because they shed light on cognitive control functions, such as motor response switching and (multiple) task management.
Date:1 Oct 2011  →  30 Sep 2016
Keywords:Motor control, Neuroplasticity, Bimanual coordination, Diffusion tensor imaging, Functional magnetic resonance imaging, Transcranial magnetic stimulation
Disciplines:Animal experimental and comparative psychology , Applied psychology, Human experimental psychology, Neurosciences, Biological and physiological psychology, Cognitive science and intelligent systems, Developmental psychology and ageing, Orthopaedics