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Assessment and recovery of visually guided reaching deficits following cerebellar stroke

Faculty Advisor




visuomotor control, cerebellum, limb ataxia, optic ataxia, reaching, dorsal stream, recovery

Abstract (summary)

The cerebellum is known to play an important role in the coordination and timing of limb movements. The present study focused on how reach kinematics are affected by cerebellar lesions to quantify both the presence of motor impairment, and recovery of motor function over time. In the current study, 12 patients with isolated cerebellar stroke completed clinical measures of cognitive and motor function, as well as a visually guided reaching (VGR) task using the Kinarm exoskeleton at baseline (~2 weeks), as well as 6, 12, and 24-weeks post-stroke. During the VGR task, patients made unassisted reaches with visual feedback from a central ‘start’ position to one of eight targets arranged in a circle. At baseline, 6/12 patients were impaired across several parameters of the VGR task compared to a Kinarm normative sample (n=307), revealing deficits in both feed-forward and feedback control. The only clinical measures that consistently demonstrated impairment were the Purdue Pegboard Task (PPT; 9/12 patients) and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (6/11 patients). Overall, patients who were impaired at baseline showed significant recovery by the 24-week follow-up for both VGR and the PPT. A lesion overlap analysis indicated that the regions most commonly damaged in 5/12 patients (42% overlap) were lobule IX and Crus II of the right cerebellum. A lesion subtraction analysis comparing patients who were impaired (n=6) vs. unimpaired (n=6) on the VGR task at baseline showed that the region most commonly damaged in impaired patients was lobule VIII of the right cerebellum (40% overlap). Our results lend further support to the notion that the cerebellum is involved in both feedforward and feedback control during reaching, and that cerebellar patients tend to recover relatively quickly overall. In addition, we argue that future research should study the effects of cerebellar damage on visuomotor control from a perception-action theoretical framework to better understand how the cerebellum works with the dorsal stream to control visually guided action.

Publication Information

Robles C.M., Anderson B., Dukelow S.P. & Striemer C.L. (2023). Assessment and recovery of visually guided reaching deficits following cerebellar stroke. Neuropsychologia. 188:108662.


Item Type

Article Post-Print



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