Understanding age-related modifications of motor control strategies
© Micera; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2008
Received: 03 November 2008
Accepted: 11 November 2008
Published: 11 November 2008
The last century handed us over a considerably older population, particularly in the developed countries. Life expectancy, which in the industrialized countries at the beginning of the 1900's, was barely 47 years, has progressively increased and today is almost 80 years, with women in an advantageous position. Moreover, the real qualitative leap is represented by the conditions in which ageing takes place, conditions that till now were inconceivable for past generations, such as the level of education, the health status and the economic resources.
The ability to maintain balance during locomotion is also naturally reduced due to ageing and this leads to fatigue and increased fall risks as the most important consequences . Falling represents one of the most worrying events for elderly people because it involves several aspects of the autonomous daily life, healthy, costs for the single subjects and costs for the society in order to increase suitable structures and manage employees, therapists and assistance.
Differences can also be found in the analysis of reaching movements . Interestingly, elders seem to deal with the modifications in their abilities by finding alternative solutions "customized" to their conditions and possibilities. This is something we could expect: the change in the properties of the "plant" asks for a redefinition of the control strategies to (try to) achieve the same level of performance.
Special issue on "Age-related modifications of motor control strategies"
The aim of this special issue (SI) was to show the results achieved by some interesting and promising activities in this specific field. Even if it was not possible to cover all the possible research subjects, many important aspects have been addressed by the authors of the manuscripts published in the SI.
Fradet and colleagues and Cesqui and colleagues studied how ageing affects the generation and control of upper limb movements with a particular attention to the generation of sub-movements and the learning of internal models to deal with modified dynamic environments, respectively.
Mazzà and colleagues investigated different aspects related to the coordination between upper and lower extremities during walking.
Bock and Priest and colleagues analyzed how increased cognitive efforts are able to modify the performance of elders and the motor control strategy they implement. This is a very important issue because elders are asked to deal with multiple challenging tasks in many activities of daily living
The guest editor would like to thank the authors and reviewers for their contribution to this special issue.
- Hamerman D: Aging and the musculoskeletal system. In Principle of geriatric medicine and geronthology. 2nd edition. Edited by: Hazzard WR, Andres R, Bierman EL, Blass JP. New York: McGraw-Hill; 1990:849-860.Google Scholar
- Mortimer JA, Pirozzolo FJ, Maletta JG: The Aging Motor System. New York: Praeger; 1982.Google Scholar
- Harridge SDR, Saltin B: Neuromuscular System. In Encyclopedia of gerontology. Volume 2. Academic Press, San Diego; 1996.Google Scholar
- Seidler RD, Stelmach GE: Motor Control. In Encyclopedia of gerontology. Volume 1. Academic Press San Diego; 1996.Google Scholar
- Seidler RD, Stelmach GE: Persistence in visual feedback control by the elderly. Exp Brain Res 1998, 119: 467-474. 10.1007/s002210050362View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Darling WG, Cooke JD, Brown SH: Control of simple arm movements in elderly humans. Neurobiol Aging 1989, 10: 149-5. 10.1016/0197-4580(89)90024-9View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Ketcham CJ, Dounskaia NV, Stelmach GE: Age-related differences in the control of multijoint movements. Motor Control 2004, 8: 422-36.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Bock O, Girgenrath M: Relationship between sensorimotor adaptation and cognitive functions in younger and older subjects. Exp Brain Res 2006, 169: 400-406. 10.1007/s00221-005-0153-4View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Hedden T, Gabrieli JDE: Insights into the ageing mind: a view from cognitive neuroscience. Nat Rev Neurosci 2004,5(2):87-96. 10.1038/nrn1323View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Masud T, Morris RO: Epidemiology of falls. Age and Ageing 2001,2(S4):3-7.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Lee G, Fradet L, Ketcham CJ, Dounskaia N: Efficient control of arm movements in advanced age. Exp Brain Res 2007, 177: 78-94. 10.1007/s00221-006-0648-7View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Micera S, Bonato P, Tamura T: Gerontechnology: Advanced solutions for an ageing sosciety. 2008, 27: 10-14.Google Scholar
This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.