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How does the motor system compensate for age-related decline in sensory processing?

Many of us experience a decline in our ability to sense the environment as we grow older.

An interdisciplinary team from Cambridge Neuroscientists including researchers from Clinical Neurosciences, Engineering, Psychology and the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit have recently published a paper in Nature Communications on how the control of voluntary movement changes markedly with age. The main finding of the paper is that the brain’s motor system compensates for this change by relying more strongly on prediction from prior experience. The adapted combination of sensory information and prediction depends on the age-related differences in grey matter integrity and functional connectivity strength in a frontostriatal brain network that is essential for movement.

 

This mechanism can shed new light on some of the motor and cognitive changes typically observed with ageing. Importantly, it may contribute not only to our understanding of healthy ageing, but can also help to identify elderly who are at increased risk of developing problems with movement, such as falls.


The paper can be accessed here and the lead author is PhD student Noham Wolpe.

 

Posted on 17/10/2016

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