Motor performance and motor learning as a function of age and fitness

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jennifer L. Etnier, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Past studies have shown that electroencephalographic alpha activity increases as people learn to perform a novel motor task. Additionally, it has been suggested that motor performance and learning decline as people age beyond 60 years, and it has been hypothesized that physical fitness may attenuate this decline through its impact on the cerebral environment. This study was designed to replicate past research by assessing changes in alpha activity as a function of learning and to extend past research by examining differences in motor performance, motor learning, and alpha activity as a function of age and fitness. VO2max was assessed in 41 older (ages 60–80 years) and 42 younger (ages 20–30 years) participants. Participants were randomly assigned to experimental or control conditions, which differed in the amount of practice received. Participants performed trials on the mirror star trace on both an acquisition and a retention day. Results indicated that younger participants performed better and had greater learning than older participants. Fitness was not found to impact either performance or learning. Participants in the experimental group improved more than those in the control group and maintained this difference at retention, which suggests that learning occurred. Associated with these improvements in performance capabilities was an increase in alpha power.

Additional Information

Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 69(2), 136-146
Language: English
Date: 1998
spectral alpha, electroencephalograph

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