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Brain Sci. 2012, 2(4), 634-648; doi:10.3390/brainsci2040634

Aging, Aerobic Activity and Interhemispheric Communication

1,2,* , 3,4
1 Atlanta Rehabilitation Research and Development Center of Excellence, Department of Veteran's Affairs, Decatur, GA 30033, USA 2 Department of Neurology, Emory University, Decatur, GA 30033, USA 3 Department of Veteran's Affairs Brain Rehabilitation and Research Center, Gainesville, FL 32609, USA 4 Department of Neurology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA 5 Department of Physical Therapy, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA 6 Department of Aging and Geriatric Research, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA 7 Department of Physical Therapy, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 September 2012 / Revised: 2 November 2012 / Accepted: 13 November 2012 / Published: 16 November 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function)
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Recent studies have shown that during unimanual motor tasks, aging adults show bilateral recruitment of primary motor cortex (M1), while younger adults show a suppression of the ipsilateral motor cortex. Additional work has indicated that increased bilateral M1 recruitment in older adults may be deleterious when performing some motor tasks. However, higher levels of physical fitness are associated with improved dexterity and fitness may mitigate the loss of both inhibitory and excitatory communication in aging adults. The goal of this study was to assess dexterity and interhemispheric motor communication in physically fit and sedentary middle-age (40–60 years) right handed participants using tests of hand deftness and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). To behaviorally assess the influence of interhemispheric communication on motor performance, participants also perform the coin rotation deftness task while maintaining pinch force with the opposite hand (bimanual condition). We correlated these behavioral measures with the ipsilateral silent period using TMS to assess interhemispheric inhibition. Our results show that the middle-aged adults who were physically fit had better dexterity of their right hand (finger tapping and peg-board). When performing the coin rotation task the fit group had no between hand differences, but the sedentary group’s left hand performance was inferior to the their right hand. We found that better dexterity correlated with ipsilateral silent period duration (greater inhibition) thereby supporting the postulate that fitness improves interhemispheric motor communication.
Keywords: aging; physical fitness; interhemispheric communication; transcranial magnetic stimulation; dexterity aging; physical fitness; interhemispheric communication; transcranial magnetic stimulation; dexterity
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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McGregor, K.M.; Heilman, K.M.; Nocera, J.R.; Patten, C.; Manini, T.M.; Crosson, B.; Butler, A.J. Aging, Aerobic Activity and Interhemispheric Communication. Brain Sci. 2012, 2, 634-648.

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