Inhibition, excitation and bilateral transfer following a unilateral complex finger-tapping task in young and older adults
Nuzum, N. D., Teo, W.-P., Macpherson, H., Loughman, A., Szymlek-Gay, E. A., & Hendy, A. (2021). Inhibition, excitation and bilateral transfer following a unilateral complex finger-tapping task in young and older adults. European Journal of Neuroscience, 54(7), 6608-6617. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.15467
Neuroplasticity underpins motor learning, with abnormal neuroplasticity related to age-associated motor declines. Bilateral transfer of motor learning, through rehabilitation, may mitigate these declines; however, the magnitude of transfer may be reduced in older populations. This study investigated excitatory and inhibitory pathways in the trained and untrained hemispheres following unilateral training of a complex finger-tapping task across ageing. Fifteen young (26.2 ± 3.8 years) and 11 older adults (63.7 ± 15.4 years) received transcranial magnetic stimulation, although surface electromyography was recorded from the extensor digitorum communis (EDC) and abductor pollicis brevis (APB), before and after practicing a complex finger-tapping task with the dominant hand. Excitability, inhibition (expressed as percent change scores from pre- to post-training), motor task performance and bilateral transfer were assessed between groups. Investigation of hemispheric differences within each group was completed for measures that significantly differed between groups. There were no between-group differences in task performance or bilateral transfer, with task performance improving post-training irrespective of group for both hands (p < 0.05). Pre- to post-inhibition change scores of the untrained EDC muscle increased (p = 0.034) in older compared with younger adults, indicating reduced inhibition in older adults. Inhibition change scores significantly differed between hemispheres for the young group only (p = 0.037). Only the younger group presented with hemispheric lateralisation, providing some support for the Hemispheric Asymmetry Reduction in OLDer adults (HAROLD) hypothesis. Whether this reduction is evidence of de-differentiation or compensation will need to be confirmed with additional measures.
European Journal of Neuroscience
Postdoctoral Research Fellowship
Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship