Conditional Associative Learning Is Impaired in Cerebellar Disease in Humans

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Eight patients with lesions restricted to the cerebellum were compared with a total of 25 age-matched controls on a reaction time (RT) task allowing the recording of simple and choice RTs as well as RTs to abstract visual patterns signifying the particular movement to be performed. In all conditions the actual movements required (either a left or a right button press) remained the same, but the cognitive requirements of the task varied. In the abstract patterns condition, the significance of the various patterns with regard to the required movement had to be learned by the subjects. The patients with cerebellar lesions were particularly impaired in this condition. It is concluded that the cerebellum is involved not just in the timing of movements but also in the decision process as to which movement should be performed under particular circumstances.

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