Aging and the Brain: Is reduced function of medial-frontal cortex responsible for motor control deficits in the elderly?

Motor control deteriorates with age. For example, people over the age of 65 commit more traffic errors than younger drivers. However, it remains unclear the extent to which this increased error rate is brought about by failures of high-level cognitive control systems within the medial-frontal region of the brain as opposed to other body/brain systems. Olave Krigolson is assessing the degree to which errors by elderly individuals performing continuous motor tasks result from an impairment of error processing systems within the medial-frontal cortex. He is observing brain activity in this region of cortex during a series of experiments that will test continuous tracking and decision-making abilities—two types of tasks that are important for driving. Olave’s research will improve our understanding of why motor errors occur more frequently among older people. Furthermore, it may help develop novel techniques for assessing the functionality of motor control systems in the elderly.