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Nat Commun. 2016 Oct 3;7:13034. doi: 10.1038/ncomms13034.

Ageing increases reliance on sensorimotor prediction through structural and functional differences in frontostriatal circuits.

Author information

Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 0SZ, UK.
Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge CB2 7EF, UK.
Computational and Biological Learning Laboratory, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1PZ, UK.
Centre for Speech, Language and the Brain, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK.
Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK.


The control of voluntary movement changes markedly with age. A critical component of motor control is the integration of sensory information with predictions of the consequences of action, arising from internal models of movement. This leads to sensorimotor attenuation-a reduction in the perceived intensity of sensations from self-generated compared with external actions. Here we show that sensorimotor attenuation occurs in 98% of adults in a population-based cohort (n=325; 18-88 years; the Cambridge Centre for Ageing and Neuroscience). Importantly, attenuation increases with age, in proportion to reduced sensory sensitivity. This effect is associated with differences in the structure and functional connectivity of the pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA), assessed with magnetic resonance imaging. The results suggest that ageing alters the balance between the sensorium and predictive models, mediated by the pre-SMA and its connectivity in frontostriatal circuits. This shift may contribute to the motor and cognitive changes observed with age.

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