Classification of Visuomotor Tasks Based on Electroencephalographic Data Depends on Age-Related Differences in Brain Activity Patterns


Classification of physiological data provides a data driven approach to study central aspects of motor control, which changes with age. To implement such results in real-life applications for elderly it is important to identify age-specific characteristics of movement classification. We compared task-classification based on EEG derived activity patterns related to brain network characteristics between older and younger adults performing force tracking with two task characteristics (sinusoidal; constant) with the right or left hand. We extracted brain network patterns with dynamic mode decomposition (DMD) and classified the tasks on an individual level using linear discriminant analysis (LDA). Next, we compared the models’ performance between the groups. Studying brain activity patterns, we identified signatures of altered motor network function reflecting dedifferentiated and compensational brain activation in older adults. We found that the classification performance of the body side was lower in older adults. However, classification performance with respect to task characteristics was better in older adults. This may indicate a higher susceptibility of brain network mechanisms to task difficulty in elderly. Signatures of dedifferentiation and compensation refer to an age-related reorganization of functional brain networks, which suggests that classification of visuomotor tracking tasks is influenced by age-specific characteristics of brain activity patterns. In addition to insights into central aspects of fine motor control, the results presented here are relevant in application-oriented areas such as brain computer interfaces.

Neural Networks