Age-related deficits in rapid visuomotor decision-making

Ana Gomez-Granados, Deborah A. Barany, Margaret Schrayer, Isaac L. Kurtzer, Cedrick T. Bonnet, Tarkeshwar Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Many goal-directed actions that require rapid visuomotor planning and perceptual decision-making are affected in older adults, causing difficulties in execution of many functional activities of daily living. Visuomotor planning and perceptual identification are mediated by the dorsal and ventral visual streams, respectively, but it is unclear how age-induced changes in sensory processing in these streams contribute to declines in visuomotor decision-making performance. Previously, we showed that in young adults, task demands influenced movement strategies during visuomotor decision-making, reflecting differential integration of sensory information between the two streams. Here, we asked the question if older adults would exhibit deficits in interactions between the two streams during demanding motor tasks. Older adults (n = 15) and young controls (n = 26) performed reaching or interception movements toward virtual objects. In some blocks of trials, participants also had to select an appropriate movement goal based on the shape of the object. Our results showed that older adults corrected fewer initial decision errors during both reaching and interception movements. During the interception decision task, older adults made more decision- and execution-related errors than young adults, which were related to early initiation of their movements. Together, these results suggest that older adults have a reduced ability to integrate new perceptual information to guide online action, which may reflect impaired ventral-dorsal stream interactions. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Older adults show declines in vision, decision-making, and motor control, which can lead to functional limitations. We used a rapid visuomotor decision task to examine how these deficits may interact to affect task performance. Compared with healthy young adults, older adults made more errors in both decision-making and motor execution, especially when the task required intercepting moving targets. This suggests that age-related declines in integrating perceptual and motor information may contribute to functional deficits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1592-1603
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Volume126
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology

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