Hand Dominance and Age Have Interactive Effects on Motor Cortical Representations
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Older adults exhibit more bilateral motor cortical activity during unimanual task performance than young adults. Interestingly, a similar pattern is seen in young adults with reduced hand dominance. However, older adults report stronger hand dominance than young adults, making it unclear how handedness is manifested in the aging motor cortex. Here, we investigated age differences in the relationships between handedness, motor cortical organization, and interhemispheric communication speed. We hypothesized that relationships between these variables would differ for young and older adults, consistent with our recent proposal of an age-related shift in interhemispheric interactions. We mapped motor cortical representations of the right and left first dorsal interosseous muscles using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in young and older adults recruited to represent a broad range of the handedness spectrum. We also measured interhemispheric communication speed and bimanual coordination. We observed that more strongly handed older adults exhibited more ipsilateral motor activity in response to TMS; this effect was not present in young adults. Furthermore, we found opposing relationships between interhemispheric communication speed and bimanual performance in the two age groups. Thus, handedness manifests itself differently in the motor cortices of young and older adults and has interactive effects with age.
author list (cited authors)
Bernard, J. A., & Seidler, R. D.