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Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Apr 17;7:142. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00142. eCollection 2013.

Neural correlates of the age-related changes in motor sequence learning and motor adaptation in older adults.

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Functional Neuroimaging Unit, Centre de Recherche de l'Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, University of Montreal Montreal, QC, Canada.


As the world's population ages, a deeper understanding of the relationship between aging and motor learning will become increasingly relevant in basic research and applied settings. In this context, this review aims to address the effects of age on motor sequence learning (MSL) and motor adaptation (MA) with respect to behavioral, neurological, and neuroimaging findings. Previous behavioral research investigating the influence of aging on motor learning has consistently reported the following results. First, the initial acquisition of motor sequences is not altered, except under conditions of increased task complexity. Second, older adults demonstrate deficits in motor sequence memory consolidation. And, third, although older adults demonstrate deficits during the exposure phase of MA paradigms, the aftereffects following removal of the sensorimotor perturbation are similar to young adults, suggesting that the adaptive ability of older adults is relatively intact. This paper will review the potential neural underpinnings of these behavioral results, with a particular emphasis on the influence of age-related dysfunctions in the cortico-striatal system on motor learning.


adaptation; aging; cerebellum; consolidation; motor learning; neuroimaging; procedural memory; striatum

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