Faculté des sciences

Age-related differences in cortical and subcortical activities during observation and motor imagery of dynamic postural tasks: an FMRI study

Mouthon, Audrey ; Ruffieux, Jan ; Mouthon, Michael ; Hoogewoud, Henri-Marcel ; Annoni, Jean-Marie ; Taube, Wolfgang

In: Neural Plasticity, 2018, p. -

Age-related changes in brain activation other than in the primary motor cortex are not well known with respect to dynamic balance control. Therefore, the current study aimed to explore age-related differences in the control of static and dynamic postural tasks using fMRI during mental simulation of balance tasks. For this purpose, 16 elderly (72 ± 5 years) and 16 young adults... More

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    Summary
    Age-related changes in brain activation other than in the primary motor cortex are not well known with respect to dynamic balance control. Therefore, the current study aimed to explore age-related differences in the control of static and dynamic postural tasks using fMRI during mental simulation of balance tasks. For this purpose, 16 elderly (72 ± 5 years) and 16 young adults (27 ± 5 years) were asked to mentally simulate a static and a dynamic balance task by motor imagery (MI), action observation (AO), or the combination of AO and MI (AO + MI). Age-related differences were detected in the form of larger brain activations in elderly compared to young participants, especially in the challenging dynamic task when applying AO + MI. Interestingly, when MI (no visual input) was contrasted to AO (visual input), elderly participants revealed deactivation of subcortical areas. The finding that the elderly demonstrated overactivation in mostly cortical areas in challenging postural conditions with visual input (AO + MI and AO) but deactivation in subcortical areas during MI (no vision) may indicate that elderly individuals allocate more cortical resources to the internal representation of dynamic postural tasks. Furthermore, it might be assumed that they depend more strongly on visual input to activate subcortical internal representations.