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Science 300 (5624): 1437-1439

Copyright © 2003 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Disrupted Timing of Discontinuous But Not Continuous Movements by Cerebellar Lesions

Rebecca M. C. Spencer,1,2* Howard N. Zelaznik,2 Jörn Diedrichsen,1 Richard B. Ivry1

Abstract: Patients with cerebellar damage are known to exhibit deficits in the temporal control of movements. We report that these deficits are restricted to discontinuous movements. Cerebellar patients exhibited no deficit in temporal variability when producing continuous, rhythmic movements. We hypothesize that the temporal properties of continuous movements are emergent and reflect the operation of other control parameters not associated with the cerebellum. In contrast, discontinuous movements require an explicit representation of the temporal goal, a function of the cerebellum. The requirement for explicit temporal representation provides a parsimonious account of cerebellar involvement in a range of tasks.

1 Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, 3210 Tolman Hall #1650, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
2 Department of Health & Kinesiology, Integrative Program in Neuroscience, Purdue University, 1362 Lambert, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: rspencer{at}

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