Age-related changes in neural plasticity after motor learning

Berghuis, K. M. M., 2019, [Groningen]: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. 133 p.

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)Academic

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Increasing age is accompanied by structural deteriorations in the brain. Yet, somehow, older adults are still able to learn new motor skills, sometimes even as well as young adults. How do older adults accomplish this? Do they use different (sub)cortical strategies than young adults? It is important to understand the underlying neural mechanisms of motor learning and how these change with increasing age in order to further develop and improve neurorehabilitation programs in patients suffering from impaired motor function. This thesis examined age-related differences in the underlying neural mechanisms of motor learning. The authors used neurostimulation and neuroimaging techniques to examine markers of neural plasticity after both the acquisition and motor memory consolidation of a visuomotor tracking skill in young and older adults. The results show that, while acquiring and retaining the visuomotor skill at similar rates, older compared with young adults use different neural mechanisms when the visuomotor tracking skill is consolidated into motor memory. This might be indicative of alternative neural strategies in older adults to compensate for declines in gray matter volume in the aging brain. The results in this thesis provides new knowledge that is important for tailoring neurostimulation programs to the patient’s age and the stage of motor learning.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Hortobagyi, Tibor, Supervisor
  • Koch, Giacomo, Supervisor, External person
  • Zijdewind, Inge, Co-supervisor
  • Swinnen, SP, Assessment committee, External person
  • Sack, S, Assessment committee, External person
  • Aleman, Andre, Assessment committee
Award date6-Mar-2019
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-94-034-1328-0
Electronic ISBNs978-94-034-1327-3
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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