gms | German Medical Science

Physical activity and successful aging
10th International EGREPA Conference

European Group for Research into Elderly and Physical Activity

14.09. - 16.09.2006 in Köln

Healthy mind in a healthy body? A review of sensorimotor-cognitive interdependencies in old age

Meeting Abstract

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Physical activity and successful aging. Xth International EGREPA Conference. Cologne, 14.-16.09.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. Doc06pasa001

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Veröffentlicht: 18. Dezember 2006

© 2006 Lindenberger.
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Normal aging is associated with losses in the functional integrity of sensory, sensorimotor, and cognitive domains. Each of these losses has been studied extensively at behavioral and physiological levels of analysis. Recently, the questions whether senescent changes are causally shared and functionally coupled across domains, and malleable through experience have received increasing attention. I will review evidence regarding causal and functional couplings between sensorimotor and cognitive aging, with a special emphasis on potential ways to improve the course of cognitive aging through sensorimotor intervention. Reported evidence will include correlational studies, dual-task experiments, and aerobic fitness interventions, as well select neuroscience work in animals and humans. First, correlational cross-sectional and longitudinal data indicate increasing associations between sensorimotor and cognitive aspects of behavior with advancing age. Second, older adults show greater performance decrements than young adults when sensorimotor and cognitive tasks or task components are performed concurrently rather than in isolation. Third, aerobic fitness interventions produce positive transfer effects on cognition that are particularly pronounced for tasks with high demands on attention and executive control. Fourth, neuroscience findings from animal models and humans have identified aging-sensitive structural and functional circuitries that support cognitive functions and are enhanced by higher levels of sensorimotor functioning. I conclude that sensorimotor and cognitive aging are causally related and functionally interdependent, and that age-associated increments in cognitive resource demands of sensorimotor functioning are malleable by experience.