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Investigating the effect of ageing on the functional neuroplasticity of adults using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation: A sham-controlled study

Dwyer, Hannah (2018) Investigating the effect of ageing on the functional neuroplasticity of adults using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation: A sham-controlled study. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

Neuroplasticity refers to the ability for the brain to change through experience. Research suggests that neuroplasticity declines with age, however recent studies are finding no age-related effects. One contemporary study is thus suggesting, that older adults experience an age-related delay in neuroplasticity, rather than a decline. Therefore, older adults have the same capacity for neuroplasticity as younger adults, however, they require more time for neuroplasticity induction to occur. Spaced continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) is a type of non-invasive brain stimulation which painlessly induces neuroplasticity in the primary motor cortex (M1) and temporarily alter the excitability of the stimulated brain region. The aim of the study was to determine whether there was an age-related delay in spaced cTBS induced neuroplasticity. Ten younger adults, and ten older adults were recruited for two experimental sessions: A sham cTBS condition, and a spaced cTBS condition. The results indicated that spaced cTBS was unable to induce neuroplasticity in the younger adult sample or older adults sample. There was no statistically significant change in the excitability of M1 post-spaced cTBS compared to baseline across both experiments. Spaced cTBS might be confounded by inter-individual variability like other cTBS protocols. There was a significant interaction between the older adult sample and declines in M1 excitability across both conditions. Fluctuating states of arousal may have influenced these results. These findings highlight the need for more research on spaced cTBS, and whether it is a viable technique for learning more about motor functioning in older adults.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Supervisor(s): Vallence, Anne-Marie
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/41740
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