fMRI and sleep correlates of the age-related impairment in motor memory consolidation

Stuart M. Fogel, Genevieve Albouy, Catherine Vien, Romana Popovicci, Bradley R. King, Rick Hoge, Saad Jbabdi, Habib Benali, Avi Karni, Pierre Maquet, Julie Carrier, Julien Doyon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Behavioral studies indicate that older adults exhibit normal motor sequence learning (MSL), but paradoxically, show impaired consolidation of the new memory trace. However, the neural and physiological mechanisms underlying this impairment are entirely unknown. Here, we sought to identify, through functional magnetic resonance imaging during MSL and electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings during daytime sleep, the functional correlates and physiological characteristics of this age-related motor memory deficit. As predicted, older subjects did not exhibit sleep-dependent gains in performance (i.e., behavioral changes that reflect consolidation) and had reduced sleep spindles compared with young subjects. Brain imaging analyses also revealed that changes in activity across the retention interval in the putamen and related brain regions were associated with sleep spindles. This change in striatal activity was increased in young subjects, but reduced by comparison in older subjects. These findings suggest that the deficit in sleep-dependent motor memory consolidation in elderly individuals is related to a reduction in sleep spindle oscillations and to an associated decrease of activity in the cortico-striatal network.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3625-3645
Number of pages21
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2014


  • Aging
  • Cerebellum
  • EEG
  • FMRI
  • Hippocampus
  • Memory consolidation
  • Motor sequence learning
  • Putamen
  • Sleep
  • Spindles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Anatomy


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