Motor skill Learning in Older ADults: neurocognitive correlates, differences, and interventions to enable healthy aging

There is an increasing concern about the societal impact of the growing proportion of older adults. This concerns not only demented people, but also relatively healthy older adults who show physical and cognitive decline too. The proposed research addresses the effect of age on the basic capacity to develop new motor skills, as these skills play an important role for independent living and participation in modern society. We will characterize, first, age differences in middle-aged and older groups in motor skill learning with a battery of three motor tasks which allows us to assess the contribution of various (neuro-)cognitive processes using performance measures and EEG. Given that individual differences increase with age?indeed, some individuals exhibit preserved functions even into advancing age?we will address, second, individual learning differences, and their relationship with lifestyle factors like physical activity, and the prevalence of engaging in motor skills earlier in life like touch typing, playing instruments, and handcrafting. Using the results acquired in the first and second parts of the project, in the third part we will examine with our task battery behavioral and physiological interventions to see whether these increase the capacity of older individuals to develop new motor skills.