We investigated how older adults preserve the capability to acquire new motor skills in the face of age-related brain alterations. We assessed neural changes associated with learning a bimanual coordination task over 4 days of practice in healthy young (n = 24) and older adults (n = 24). The electroencephalogram was recorded during task performance at the start and end of training. Motor performance improved with practice in both groups, but the amount of learning was lower in the older adults. Beta power (15–30 Hz) in sensorimotor and prefrontal cortices of older adults was reduced with training, indicative of higher neural activity. We also found a functional reorganization after training in beta and alpha (8–12 Hz) bands. Between-session changes in alpha and beta power differed between groups in several cortical areas: young adults exhibited reduced power in the beta band in sensorimotor cortices, whereas older adults displayed a smaller decrease. Our findings indicate a less flexible reorganization of neural activity accompanying learning in older adults compared with young adults.
|Number of pages||14|
|Journal||Neurobiology of Aging|
|Early online date||6 Jan 2016|
|Publication status||Published - May 2019|
- Linear mixed-effects model
- Motor learning
- Spectral analysis