Research Paper Volume 14, Issue 18 pp 7263—7281
Bridging cognition and action: executive functioning mediates the relationship between white matter fiber density and complex motor abilities in older adults
- 1 Movement Control and Neuroplasticity Research Group, Department of Movement Sciences, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
- 2 KU Leuven Brain Institute (LBI), KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
- 3 Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia
- 4 Department of Imaging and Pathology, KU Leuven and University Hospital Leuven (UZ Leuven), Leuven, Belgium
Received: May 4, 2022 Accepted: July 11, 2022 Published: August 22, 2022https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.204237
How to Cite
Copyright: © 2022 Seer et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Aging may be associated with motor decline that is attributed to deteriorating white matter microstructure of the corpus callosum (CC), among other brain-related factors. Similar to motor functioning, executive functioning (EF) typically declines during aging, with age-associated changes in EF likewise being linked to altered white matter connectivity in the CC. Given that both motor and executive functions rely on white matter connectivity via the CC, and that bimanual control is thought to rely on EF, the question arises whether EF can at least party account for the proposed link between CC-connectivity and motor control in older adults. To address this, diffusion magnetic resonance imaging data were obtained from 84 older adults. A fiber-specific approach was used to obtain fiber density (FD), fiber cross-section (FC), and a combination of both metrics in eight transcallosal white matter tracts. Motor control was assessed using a bimanual coordination task. EF was determined by a domain-general latent EF-factor extracted from multiple EF tasks, based on a comprehensive test battery. FD of transcallosal prefrontal fibers was associated with cognitive and motor performance. EF partly accounted for the relationship between FD of prefrontal transcallosal pathways and motor control. Our results underscore the multidimensional interrelations between callosal white matter connectivity (especially in prefrontal brain regions), EF across multiple domains, and motor control in the older population. They also highlight the importance of considering EF when investigating brain-motor behavior associations in older adults.