Before an action is performed, the brain simulates the body's dynamic behavior in relation to the environment, estimates the possible outcomes and assesses the feasibility of potential actions. Here, we tested a hypothesis whereby age-related changes in sensorimotor abilities result in failure to update internal models of action in the elderly. Young and older adults were required to judge in advance whether or not they could stand on an inclined plane (Experiment 1). Relative to young adults, elderly adults overestimated their postural capabilities: although the two groups made similar feasibility judgments, elderly participants showed significantly worse postural performance levels. This tendency to overestimate their own ability persisted when elderly adults had to not only estimate the feasibility of an action but also endanger themselves by walking towards an obstacle that was too high for them to clear (Experiment 2). An age-related failure to update internal models may prompt the elderly to make over-optimistic predictions about upcoming actions. In turn, this may favor risky motor decision-making and promote falls. © 2013 Lafargue et al.
Lafargue, G., Noël, M., & Luyat, M. (2013). In the Elderly, Failure to Update Internal Models Leads to Over-Optimistic Predictions about Upcoming Actions. PLoS ONE, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0051218