A central mechanism to regulate one’s behaviour is cognitive control, mainly orchestrated by lateral and medial frontal brain regions. It is needed for modulating different top-down processes such as planning, switching between tasks or the inhibition of habitual reactions. In particular, cognitive control allows to select a correct response out of different possible alternative responses and to evaluate this decision.
One aspect of cognitive control is the inhibition of (unwanted) motor acts/movements. While cognitive control is usually impaired in older people, this is not the case for motor inhibition. However, older adults show deficits in other aspects of cognitive control like error detection. A recent EEG-study on error processing revealed age-related amplitude reductions of the late error positivity (Pe) associated with more undetected errors, while the early error processing, as evidenced by the error-related negativity (ERN) was intact in older subjects (Niessen et al., 2017).
- Niessen E, Fink GR, Hoffmann HE, Weiss PH, Stahl J (2017). Error detection across the adult lifespan: electrophysiological evidence for age-related deficits. NeuroImage, 152, 517-529. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.03.015