Sense & Movement – A Surprisingly Unique Phenomenon

mature woman trail running

Julia C. Basso, PhD

Reporting from the 2017 Annual Society for Neuroscience Meeting

The ability to adapt your movement to signals or cues in the environment is known as sensorimotor adaptation, the focus of one of the many minisymposiums at the conference. Dr. Rachael Seidler and her colleagues at the University of Florida study this phenomenon using the sensorimotor adaptation task, a task where you are required to move a joystick with your hand to hit a target on the computer screen.

Related Article: Exercise-Induced Increases In Brain Size

Excellent Performance Study

couple balancing on railroad tracksOver time, people gradually adapt their movements to account for distortion of the presented image. Interestingly, there are quite large individual differences in adaptation rates. Sensorimotor adaptation decreases with age; however, even in older populations, a large spread of abilities are seen.

Dr. Seidler was curious whether anything about these older adults predict their excellent performance?

First, she found that those individuals who have better spatial working memory abilities have better sensorimotor function. She then examined the brains of individuals performing the sensorimotor adaptation task while in a magnetic resonance imaging scanner. Higher levels of activation of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain involved in higher-level cognitive functioning, predicted better performance on this task.

She then examined whether any underlying genetic effects predicted good performance in sensorimotor adaptation – she focused on two dopamine genes (COMT and DRD2). Those individuals who had a genotype that coded for the highest levels of dopamine transmission in the brain showed the greatest performance in sensorimotor adaptation.

She then examined the relationship between motor movement and dopamine genotype (low versus high dopamine transmission) in Parkinson’s patients, a group of individuals with impaired dopamine signaling. Parkinson’s patients with the genotype that coded for low dopamine signaling walked more slowly and took smaller steps. When she examined responses to the drug L-DOPA, she saw something interesting. Those with the highest dopamine transmission genes, showed better baseline gait function but no response to treatment. Contrarily, those with the low dopamine transmission genes, showed a worse baseline gait function but a better response to medication.

Related Article: Resistance Training For Parkinson’s Disease

Takeaway

Future research will be needed to investigate other behavioral, brain, and genetic factors that contribute to individual differences in sensorimotor adaptation, how this behavior is modulated by age and disease states, and techniques to improve sensorimotor processing.

You Might Like:

Aerobic Exercise and Learning

Does Aerobic Exercise Improve Learning?

This article was adapted from a combination of speeches given at the European Sports Science Conference 2018, most notably Einat Kodesh (UNIVERSITY OF HAIFA, ISRAEL).  Dayton Kelly Exercise has demonstrated numerous benefits to cognitive function...
Reducing-Anxiety

Three Types of Exercise for Reducing Anxiety

Most of us have experienced anxiety at one time or another. Whether it be jitters about starting a new job, increased heart rate before a big presentation or exam, or general uneasiness and nerves when...
downhill skier

4 Ways to Overcome Sports Performance Anxiety

Alyssa Bialowas Competition anxiety is common in athletes, especially if they struggle to deliver performance. It’s the feeling of stress and pressure right before a competition that can be harmful to athletes and if it’s...

3 Benefits of Exercise and Mental Health

Alyssa Bialowas The Mental Benefits of Exercise While the physical benefits of exercise are well documented, there are numerous mental health benefits of exercise. If you’ve ever left a workout feeling on top of the...

The Surfing Affect on Mood and Well-Being

A Review by Alyssa Bialowas Exercise-induced affect (EIA) is a cycle that includes various characteristics of physical activity and is often composed of positive affect, negative affect, tranquility, and fatigue (Crussemeyer et al., 2017). EIA...

Everyday Tips To Be More Mindful

Gillian White – MSc, PhD (Candidate), University of Toronto Mindfulness Part II. Everyday tips to be more mindful. As I discussed in the previous article, Mindfulness Part I, the pursuit and practice of mindfulness has...
Reducing-Anxiety

Three Types of Exercise for Reducing Anxiety

3 Benefits of Exercise and Mental Health

3 Benefits of Exercise and Mental Health

The Surfing Affect on Mood and Well-Being

The Surfing Affect on Mood and Well-Being

Woman lifting weights

Does Weightlifting Make You Smarter as You Age?

A Trick To The Foundation Of Youth?

A Trick To The Foundation Of Youth?

Muse meditation headband

Muse: A heart rate monitor for your head

woman-exercising

3 Ways Physical Exercise Improves Cognitive Function in Middle-Aged Women

The Trick Stress Plays on Your Metabolism

The Trick Stress Plays on Your Metabolism

family hula hooping

Find Your Rhythm Through Hula Hooping

Couple dancing

Do Younger & Older Brains Respond Differently To Dance?

Leave a Reply