The 8th Faculty of Human Sciences Colloquium (5/29/2013)

Dedifferentiation of Cognitive and Motor Functions in Aging

Dr. Claudia Rodriguez-Aranda

Dept. of Psychology, University of Tromso, Norway

May 29 (Wed) 16:00 – 18:30

Room 110‚ Laboratory of Advanced Research A

During the course of aging a decline of specialization of functions takes place, which is known as the dedifferentiation process. Dedifferentiation is clearly observed in the tight interrelation of sensory, motor and cognitive functions that occurs with increasing age. At the Dept. of psychology in Tromsø, we are working on the study of dedifferentiation of motor and cognitive functions. We have recently launched a major project in which we examine the association of motor and cognitive declines in various aging populations ranging from healthy elderly adults to patients at the early phases of dementia. We focus on the study of fine motor changes in different activities of daily living such as speech, gait and dexterity and their association with cognitive functions. Standard neuropsychological assessment is performed for evaluation of cognition while the assessment of motor functions is conducted by the use of kinematics, voice spectrography and spatio-temporal analyses of gait. Our aim is to identify specific patterns of motor and cognitive changes in the different elderly populations. An ancillary goal is to employ these methods for the early detection of pathological changes such as in the case of Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, we are linking behavioral outcomes to structural and functional changes in the brain by the use of MRI techniques (DTI and fMRI). In my talk I will describe all phases of the study emphasizing the methods employed and I will present some recent data.     

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