Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 94, Issue 3, pp 478–488 | Cite as

Role of the cerebellum in visuomotor coordination

I. Delayed eye and arm initiation in patients with mild cerebellar ataxia
  • S. H. Brown
  • K. R. Kessler
  • H. Hefter
  • J. D. Cooke
  • H.-J. Freund


The initiation of coupled eye and arm movements was studied in six patients with mild cerebellar dysfunction and in six age-matched control subjects. The experimental paradigm consisted of 40 deg step-tracking elbow movements made under different feedback conditions. During tracking with the eyes only, saccadic latencies in patients were within normal limits. When patients were required to make coordinated eye and arm movements, however, eye movement onset was significantly delayed. In addition, removal of visual information about arm versus target position had a pronounced differential effect on movement latencies. When the target was extinguished for 3 s immediately following a step change in target position, both eye and arm onset times were further prolonged compared to movements made to continuously visible targets. When visual information concerning arm position was removed, onset times were reduced. Eye and arm latencies in control subjects were unaffected by changes in visual feedback. The results of this study clearly demonstrate that, in contrast to earlier reports of normal saccadic latencies associated with cerebellar dysfunction, initiation of both eye and arm movements is prolonged during coordinated visuomotor tracking thus supporting a coordinative role for the cerebellum during oculo-manual tracking tasks.

Key words

Eye-arm coordination Cerebellum Visual feedback Human 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. H. Brown
    • 1
  • K. R. Kessler
    • 2
  • H. Hefter
    • 2
  • J. D. Cooke
    • 1
  • H.-J. Freund
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  2. 2.Neurologische Klinik der Heinrich-Heine-UniversitätDüsseldorfGermany
  3. 3.Center for Human Motor Research, Department of Movement ScienceUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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