Age-related changes in causal interactions between cortical motor regions during hand grip

Marie-Hélène Boudrias, Carla Sá Gonçalves, Will D. Penny, Chang-Hyun Park, Holly E Rossiter, Penelope Talelli, Nick S Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Brain activity during motor performance becomes more widespread and less lateralized with advancing age in response to ongoing degenerative processes. In this study, we were interested in the mechanism by which this change in the pattern of activity supports motor performance with advancing age. We used both transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to assess age related changes in motor system connectivity during isometric hand grip. Paired pulse TMS was used to measure the change in interhemispheric inhibition (IHI) from contralateral M1 (cM1) to ipsilateral M1 (iM1) during right hand grip. Dynamic Causal Modelling (DCM) of fMRI data was used to investigate the effect of age on causal interactions throughout the cortical motor network during right hand grip. Bayesian model selection was used to identify the causal model that best explained the data for all subjects. Firstly, we confirmed that the TMS and DCM measures both demonstrated a less inhibitory/more facilitatory influence of cM1 on iM1 during hand grip with advancing age. These values correlated with one another providing face validity for our DCM measures of connectivity. We found increasing reciprocal facilitatory influences with advancing age (i) between all ipsilateral cortical motor areas and (ii) between cortical motor areas of both hemispheres and iM1. There were no differences in the performance of our task with ageing suggesting that the ipsilateral cortical motor areas, in particular iM1, play a central role in maintaining performance levels with ageing through increasingly facilitatory cortico-cortical influences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3398-3405
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Early online date18 Nov 2011
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2012


  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex
  • Young Adult

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