Alpha and beta neural oscillations differentially reflect age-related differences in bilateral coordination
Bilateral in-phase (IP) and anti-phase (AP) movements represent two fundamental modes of bilateral coordination that are essential for daily living. Although previous studies have shown that aging is behaviorally associated with decline in bilateral coordination, especially in AP movements, the underlying neural mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we use kinematic measurements and electroencephalography to compare motor performance of young and older adults executing bilateral IP and AP hand movements. On the behavioral level, inter-limb synchronization was reduced during AP movements compared to IP and this reduction was stronger in the older adults. On the neural level, we found interactions between group and condition for task-related power change in different frequency bands. The interaction was driven by smaller alpha power decreases over the non-dominant cortical motor area in young adults during IP movements and larger beta power decreases over the midline region in older adults during AP movements. In addition, the decrease in inter-limb synchronization during AP movements was predicted by stronger directional connectivity in the beta-band: an effect more pronounced in older adults. Our results therefore show that age-related differences in the two bilateral coordination modes are reflected on the neural level by differences in alpha and beta oscillatory power as well as interhemispheric directional connectivity.