Cortical grey matter content is associated with both age and bimanual performance, but is not observed to mediate age-related behavioural decline

Peter van Ruitenbeek*, Leen Serbruyns, Elena Solesio-Jofre, Raf Meesen, Koen Cuypers, Stephan P Swinnen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Declines in both cortical grey matter and bimanual coordination performance are evident in healthy ageing. However, the relationship between ageing, bimanual performance, and grey matter loss remains unclear, particularly across the whole adult lifespan. Therefore, participants (N = 93, range 20-80 years) performed a complex Bimanual Tracking Task, and structural brain images were obtained using magnetic resonance imaging. Analyses revealed that age correlated negatively with task performance. Voxel-based morphometry analysis revealed that age was associated with grey matter declines in task-relevant cortical areas and that grey matter in these areas was negatively associated with task performance. However, no evidence for a mediating effect of grey matter in age-related bimanual performance decline was observed. We propose a new hypothesis that functional compensation may account for the observed absence of mediation, which is in line with the observed pattern of increased inter-individual variance in performance with age.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-448
Number of pages12
JournalBrain Structure & Function
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

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