A combined diffusion-weighted and electroencephalography study on age-related differences in connectivity in the motor network during bimanual performance

Parinaz Babaeeghazvini, Laura Milena Rueda-Delgado, Hamed Zivari Adab, Jolien Gooijers, Stephan Swinnen, Andreas Daffertshofer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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We studied the relationship between age-related differences in inter- and intra-hemispheric structural and functional connectivity in the bilateral motor network. Our focus was on the correlation between connectivity and declined motor performance in older adults. Structural and functional connectivity were estimated using diffusion weighted imaging and resting-state electro-encephalography, respectively. A total of 48 young and older healthy participants were measured. In addition, motor performances were assessed using bimanual coordination tasks. To pre-select regions-of-interest (ROIs), a neural model was adopted that accounts for intra-hemispheric functional connectivity between dorsal premotor area (PMd) and primary motor cortex (M1) and inter-hemispheric connections between left and right M1 (M1 L and M1 R ). Functional connectivity was determined via the weighted phase-lag index (wPLI) in the source-reconstructed beta activity during rest. We quantified structural connectivity using kurtosis anisotropy (KA) values of tracts derived from diffusion tensor-based fiber tractography between the aforementioned areas. In the group of older adults, wPLI values between M1 L –M1 R were negatively associated with the quality of bimanual motor performance. The additional association between wPLI values of PMd L ––M1 L and PMd R –M1 L supports that functional connectivity with the left hemisphere mediated (bimanual) motor control in older adults. The correlational analysis between the selected structural and functional connections revealed a strong association between wPLI values in the left intra-hemispheric PMd L –M1 L pathway and KA values in M1 L –M1 R and PMd R –M1 L pathways in the group of older adults. This suggests that weaker structural connections in older adults correlate with stronger functional connectivity and, hence, poorer motor performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1799-1813
Number of pages15
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number6
Early online date26 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2019


KU Leuven Research Fund, Grant/Award Number: C16/15/070; Excellence of Science, Grant/Award Number: 30446199; Research Foundation Flanders, Grant/Award Number: G089818 N; European Commission, Grant/ Award Number: 2014–0691/001–001–EMJD This work was part of the Move-Age joint doctorate program, which is funded by the European Commission as part of the Erasmus Mun-dus programme with grant number: 2014–0691/001–001–EMJD. It also received financial support from the Research Foundation Flanders Research Grant (G089818 N) and the Excellence of Science grant (EOS, 30446199, MEMODYN), and a C1 grant from the KU Leuven Research Fund (C16/15/070).

FundersFunder number
Excellence of Science30446199
Research Foundation Flanders Research
European Commission2014–0691/001–001
Fonds Wetenschappelijk OnderzoekG089818 N
KU LeuvenC16/15/070


    • aging
    • bimanual coordination
    • DWI
    • EEG
    • functional connectivity
    • motor control
    • structural connectivity


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