Fundamental differences in callosal structure, neurophysiologic function, and bimanual control in young and older adults

B. W. Fling, R. D. Seidler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Bimanual actions involve coordinated motion but often rely on the movements performed with each hand to be different. Older adults exhibit differentially greater variability for bimanual actions in which each hand has an independent movement goal. Such actions rely on interhemispheric communication via the corpus callosum, including both facilitatory and inhibitory interactions. Here, we investigated whether age differences in callosal structure and interhemispheric function contribute to this selective movement difficulty. Participants performed 3 force production tasks: 1) unimanual, 2) bimanual simultaneous, and 3) bimanual independent. Older adults had significantly greater interhemispheric facilitation during voluntary muscle activation. We also report a fundamental shift with age in the relationship between callosal tract microstructural integrity and interhemispheric inhibition (IHI). Specifically, older adults with relatively greater callosal tract microstructural integrity have less IHI. Furthermore, greater IHI was related to poorer bimanual performance (assessed by dominant hand force variability) in older adults on all tasks, whereas this relationship was only observed in young adults for the bimanual independent condition. These findings indicate changes in interhemispheric communication with advancing age such that older adults may rely on bilateral cortical cooperation to a greater extent than young adults for manual actions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2643-2652
Number of pages10
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • aging
  • bimanual
  • corpus callosum
  • diffusion tensor imaging
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Fundamental differences in callosal structure, neurophysiologic function, and bimanual control in young and older adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this