Predictive Motor Timing Performance Dissociates Between Early Diseases of the Cerebellum and Parkinson's Disease
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There is evidence that both the basal ganglia and the cerebellum play a role in the neural representation of time in a variety of behaviours, but whether one of them is more important is not yet clear. To address this question in the context of predictive motor timing, we tested patients with various movement disorders implicating these two structures in a motor-timing task. Specifically, we investigated four different groups: (1) patients with early Parkinson's disease (PD); (2) patients with sporadic spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA); (3) patients with familial essential tremor (ET); and (4) matched healthy controls. We used a predictive motor-timing task that involved mediated interception of a moving target, and we assessed the effect of movement type (acceleration, deceleration and constant), speed (slow, medium and fast) and angle (0°, 15° and 30°) on performance (hit, early error and late error). The main results showed that PD group and arm ET subgroup did not significantly differ from the control group. SCA and head ET subjects (severe and mild cerebellar damage, respectively) were significantly worse at interception than the other two groups. Our findings support the idea that the basal ganglia play a less significant role in predictive motor timing than the cerebellum. The fact that SCA and ET subjects seemed to have a fundamental problem with predictive motor timing suggests that the cerebellum plays an essential role in integrating incoming visual information with the motor output in a timely manner, and that ET is a heterogeneous entity that deserves increased attention from clinicians.
KeywordsCerebellum Essential tremor Interception Motor timing Parkinson's disease Spinocerebellar ataxia
Supported by Research Plan MŠM0021622404. Ovidiu Lungu is supported by a fellowship from Ministère du Développement économique, de l'Innovation et de l'Exportation du Québec.
We wish to thank Anne Johnson for her grammatical assistance.
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