Le Dr. Solveig VIELUF, de l'équipe « Performance Motrice et Modélisation » (P2M) à l’Institut des Sciences du Mouvement à Aix-Marseille Université, invitée par Leslie DECKER.

Titre : « age-related differences in motor control: insight from force control and bimanual coordination paradigms »

Abstract :

The current demographic change in industrialized countries is altering the population’s age structure and confronts societies, organizations and individuals with numerous challenges. It influences social, economic, healthcare, and educational matters. One major societal goal is to improve the quality of life of elderly and consequently support successful aging. To ensure an independent life style, dexterous use of the hands is required for many everyday tasks such as using a key, buttoning a shirt, or tying laces. Besides this, with regard to working life, fine motor control, as an essential part of manual dexterity, allows for the skillful manipulation of objects, required for numerous occupational fields. Consequently, manual dexterity is an important factor for both exemplary aspects of successful aging: to maintain in the active work force and enabling older people to maintain an independent life style in later life.

With increasing age, significant changes, mostly decrements, in motor behavior have been observed. However, the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. In order to gain insight into the underlying mechanisms of age-related deterioration of hand functioning, it is important to detect markers of age-related changes early.

A general age-related change affecting multiple subsystems is the loss of specialization. General characteristics that can be observed in behavior include slowing, changes in the amplitude and structure of variability, and dedifferentiation. Force control and bimanual coordination are key components of dexterous object manipulation and therefore crucial factor for older adults’ autonomy. During daily activities, the rapid production of a certain force, the maintenance of an isometric force or their combination, as well as the interaction of both hands, can be required. Depending on the type of task, the relative weight of the involved control processes varies. Against this background, the general aim of my research is to systematically study and to detect relevant markers of indicating the consequences of the age-related reorganization within and between the motor, the tactile, and the cognitive sub-systems and the consequences for motor control and motor learning.


I will present studies from three different projects I have been involved in:

1)      The ‘CoordAge’ project: multidisciplinary project lead by Prof. Jean-Jacques Temprado and Prof. Viktor Jirsa, which studies age-related differences in motor control at the brain, muscle, and behavioral level. My part of the project focuses on how the cognitive-motor interplay changes with age.

2)      Sequencing: This project comprised two parts; the role of eye movements during sequence learning and the bimanual coordination across the lifespan, comparing coordination dynamics of children with young and older adults.

The Bremen-Hand-Study@Jacobs: this project investigated the influence of age and expertise on manual dexterity and its electrophysiological correlates over the working lifespan.