The Psychological and Perceptual-Motor Aspects of Huntington's Disease

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The paper reviews the research conducted during the past 10 years regarding the psychological and perceptual-motor aspects of Huntington's disease (HD), a relatively rare neurological motor disorder associated with aging. Based upon a critical examination of the research designs, methods, and findings, several general directions for future research are proposed. First, more effort should be taken to explore and understand the nature of the underlying psychological processes contributing to the motor disorder, an aspect of the disease neglected by researchers. Second, a more positive strategy should be used where research has the objective of enhancing psychomotor performance. To guide this research, a model describing the perceptual-motor mechanisms that may be operating in persons with HD is proposed. The overall implication of the model is that rehabilitative methods that are designed to improve the quality of the internal kinesthetic (i.e., proprioceptive) feedback signals generated from movements may improve motor control and, thereby, may reduce the extent and/or the rate of the decline in motor skills. Such a program of research not only might provide a broader understanding of the underlying processes that affect motor behavior, but might also yield methods designed to improve the control of movement.

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