Motor control and aging: Links to age-related brain structural, functional, and biochemical effects

Rachael D. Seidler, Jessica A. Bernard, Taritonye B. Burutolu, Brett W. Fling, Mark T. Gordon, Joseph T. Gwin, Youngbin Kwak, David B. Lipps

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1056 Scopus citations


Although connections between cognitive deficits and age-associated brain differences have been elucidated, relationships with motor performance are less well understood. Here, we broadly review age-related brain differences and motor deficits in older adults in addition to cognition-action theories. Age-related atrophy of the motor cortical regions and corpus callosum may precipitate or coincide with motor declines such as balance and gait deficits, coordination deficits, and movement slowing. Correspondingly, degeneration of neurotransmitter systems-primarily the dopaminergic system-may contribute to age-related gross and fine motor declines, as well as to higher cognitive deficits. In general, older adults exhibit involvement of more widespread brain regions for motor control than young adults, particularly the prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia networks. Unfortunately these same regions are the most vulnerable to age-related effects, resulting in an imbalance of "supply and demand". Existing exercise, pharmaceutical, and motor training interventions may ameliorate motor deficits in older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)721-733
Number of pages13
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Cognition
  • Dopamine
  • Exercise
  • Motor performance
  • Plasticity
  • Rehabilitation
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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