Motor control in older adults may be exacerbated by age-related executive functioning decline

Aging-US published "Cognition and action: a latent variable approach to study contributions of executive functions to motor control in older adults" which reported that Aging is associated with profound alterations in motor control that may be exacerbated by age-related executive functioning decline.

However, comprehensive studies regarding the contributions of single facets of executive functioning to movement control in older adults are still lacking. A battery of nine neuropsychological tasks was administered to n = 92 older adults in order to derive latent factors for inhibition, shifting, and updating by structural equation modeling. A bimanual task was used to assess complex motor control.

A sample of n = 26 young adults served as a control group to verify age-related performance differences.

In older adults, structural equation models revealed that performance on the most challenging condition of the complex motor task was best predicted by the updating factor and by general executive functioning performance.

These data suggest a central role for working memory updating in complex motor performance and contribute to our understanding of how individual differences in executive functioning related to movement control in older adults.

Aging is associated with a motor functioning decline that must be addressed to promote healthy and active living throughout the lifespan."

Dr. Caroline Seer, The KU Leuven Brain Institute

Despite this heterogeneity of executive functions and their hypothesized link with motor abilities especially during aging, few studies have addressed how individual differences in multiple facets of executive functioning are associated with complex motor control in older adults.

Similarly, Corti and colleagues examined associations between executive functioning and fine motor control in older adults across several executive functioning domains.

Taken together, the available evidence regarding the link between distinct facets of executive and motor control in older adults is still scarce and fragmented, and especially studies taking into account the multifaceted nature of executive functioning are lacking. In addition, the available studies address contributions of executive functions to complex motor control on the level of single tasks.

Such latent variable approaches are therefore particularly suitable for the assessment of executive functions but have not been applied to study the individual contributions of dissimilar executive functioning domains to complex motor control in older adults.

Such comprehensive data-; taking into account both the multifaceted nature of executive functioning and the task-impurity problem-; are currently lacking. This study is the first to examine the contributions of multiple facets of executive functioning to complex motor performance in older adults by using latent variable modeling, thereby creating a basis for a more detailed understanding of the link between executive abilities and movement control in aging.

The Seer Research Team concluded in their Aging-US Research Output, "this study sheds light on the interrelations between individual differences in multiple distinct facets of executive functioning and complex motor performance at older age. Importantly, we examined executive functioning using a latent variable approach, mitigating the limitations associated with single task assessments [17, 21]. In addition to a relation between motor performance and common executive abilities, our data suggest a specific link between older adults' capability to monitor and update working memory content and performing complex motor actions with both hands simultaneously. These findings extend our understanding of motor decline in aging and suggest new routes for designing cognitive training tools to preserve motor control across the lifespan."

Source:
Journal reference:

Seer, C., et al. (2021) Cognition and action: a latent variable approach to study contributions of executive functions to motor control in older adults. Aging-US. doi.org/10.18632/aging.203239.

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