UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Functional neural correlates of reduced physiological falls risk Nagamatsu, Lindsay S.; Hsu, Liang C.; Handy, Todd C.; Liu-Ambrose, Teresa


Background: It is currently unclear whether the function of brain regions associated with executive cognitive processing are independently associated with reduced physiological falls risk. If these are related, it would suggest that the development of interventions targeted at improving executive neurocognitive function would be an effective new approach for reducing physiological falls risk in seniors. Methods We performed a secondary analysis of 73 community-dwelling senior women aged 65 to 75 years old who participated in a 12-month randomized controlled trial of resistance training. Functional MRI data were acquired while participants performed a modified Eriksen Flanker Task - a task of selective attention and conflict resolution. Brain volumes were obtained using MRI. Falls risk was assessed using the Physiological Profile Assessment (PPA). Results After accounting for baseline age, experimental group, baseline PPA score, and total baseline white matter brain volume, baseline activation in the left frontal orbital cortex extending towards the insula was negatively associated with reduced physiological falls risk over the 12-month period. In contrast, baseline activation in the paracingulate gyrus extending towards the anterior cingulate gyrus was positively associated with reduced physiological falls risk. Conclusions Baseline activation levels of brain regions underlying response inhibition and selective attention were independently associated with reduced physiological falls risk. This suggests that falls prevention strategies may be facilitated by incorporating intervention components - such as aerobic exercise - that are specifically designed to induce neurocognitive plasticity. Trial Registration ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00426881

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