Interhemispheric interactions play a key role during such bimanual movements to prevent interference from the opposite hemisphere. Declines in corpus callosum (CC) size and microstructure with advancing age have been well documented, but their contributions to age deficits in bimanual function have not been identified. In the current study, we used structural magnetic resonance and diffusion tensor imaging to investigate age-related changes in the relationships between callosal macrostructure, microstructure, and motor performance on tapping tasks requiring differing degrees of interhemispheric interaction. We found that older adults demonstrated disproportionately poorer performance on out-of-phase bimanual control, replicating our previous results. In addition, older adults had smaller anterior CC size and poorer white matter integrity in the callosal midbody than their younger counterparts. Surprisingly, larger CC size and better integrity of callosal microstructure in regions connecting sensorimotor cortices were associated with poorer motor performance on tasks requiring high levels of interhemispheric interaction in young adults. Conversely, in older adults, better performance on these tasks was associated with larger size and better CC microstructure integrity within the same callosal regions. These findings implicate age-related declines in callosal size and integrity as a key contributor to bimanual control deficits. Further, the differential age-related involvement of transcallosal pathways reported here raises new questions about the role of the CC in bimanual control.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience