Wednesday, December 17th 2014
Tibor Hortobágyi, PhD
Professor of Movement and Healthy Aging
Center for Human Movement Sciences, UMCG, Groningen, NL
and Department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation, Northumbria
University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK
The aging motor brain
Whether along a healthy or un-healthy path, aging affects the structure and function of the brain in general and the circuits that subserve voluntary movement. Focusing on the motor brain, there is evidence suggesting a loss of cell bodies that form the gray matter and in the quantity and quality of the axons that constitute the white matter in the motor brain. A loss in alpha motoneuron cell bodies in the spinal cord brings about motor unit remodeling, resulting in a reorganization of the peripheral motor system. It is not entirely clear whether or not such structural changes mediate in proportion functional changes. The ensuing result is that even healthy old adults voluntary movements become slow, unsteady, and inaccurate. Perhaps to counterbalance the unfavorable structural and functional changes in the nervous system, healthy aging is associated with numerous favorable and internally generated self-organized adaptations that allow old adults to maintain motor function at a relatively high level and delay onset of mobility disability. As an external agent, physical activity and exercise can reinforce these favorable adaptations and slow but not reverse the age-related declines in motor function, mobility.
Colloquium coordinators are Prof.dr. M. Aiello (e-mail :
Prof.dr. M. Biehl (e-mail:
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