, Volume 229, Issue 4, pp 621-633
Date: 06 Jul 2013

The effects of aging on the asymmetry of inter-limb transfer in a visuomotor task

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Abstract

The direction of the asymmetry of inter-limb transfer has been suggested to identify the specialization of each hemisphere when performing a motor task. In an earlier study, we showed that trajectory information is only transferred from the right to the left hand, while final movement outcome-associated parameters transferred in both directions when right-hand-dominant individuals perform a motor task with visual distorted feedback. In the current study, we try to replicate this finding in young adults and test whether the asymmetry of inter-limb transfer in visuomotor task reduces in older adults, suggesting that hemispheric lateralization reduces with age. Young and older adults (all right-hand-dominant) performed a multidirectional point-to-point drawing task in which the visual feedback was rotated and the gain was increased. Half of the participants in each age group trained with the right hand and the other half trained with the left hand. Performances of both hands with non-distorted and distorted visual feedback were collected from all participants before and after the training session. The results showed that the pattern of inter-limb transfer was similar between young and older adults, i.e., inter-limb transfer is asymmetric for initial direction and symmetric for movement time and trajectory length. The results suggest that older adults retain the specialized functions of the non-dominant (right) hemisphere allowing them to program movement direction of a graphic aiming task when visual feedback is distorted.