Age-related changes in bilateral upper extremity coordination.

Although evidence exists that changes in sensorimotor function occur with aging, changes in the bilateral coordination of the upper extremities is less understood. Here, we review the behavioral and neural evidence of declines in bilateral coordination as well as the implications these deficits have on function and physical rehabilitation. We begin with an introduction to the two major forms of bilateral coordination, symmetric and non-symmetric and their sub-groupings. After discussing the motor performance changes with age in symmetric tasks, we address age-related changes in motor lateralization that may affect the bilateral coordination of non-symmetric coordination. This is followed by a discussion of the contributions of cognitive, sensory, and cortical changes with age that influence and underlie bilateral motor performance. Finally, age-related changes in motor learning of bilateral movements are also considered. In general, most age related changes are found in complex symmetric movements but, surprisingly, there is a dearth of information about changes in the more challenging and ubiquitous non-symmetric bilateral movements.

Future investigations should focus on broadening the understanding of age-related changes in complex, functionally relevant bilateral movements, such that the real-world implications of these changes may be derived.