Associative learning in patients with cerebellar ataxia.
Tucker J., Harding AE., Jahanshahi M., Nixon PD., Rushworth M., Quinn NP., Thompson PD., Passingham RE.
It has been claimed that patients with cerebellar pathology are impaired at associative learning. Patients with cerebellar ataxia (n = 7) were taught a visual-motor associative task. The task was chosen so as to allow comparisons with data currently being collected on the effects of cerebellar lesions on associative learning in monkeys. As a group the patients were as impaired at learning the task as a group of 8 patients with Huntington's disease. When each patient was individually matched with a control of the same age and IQ, some patients with cerebellar ataxia were found to be clearly impaired, but 2 were not. Of the 4 patients who were most clearly impaired, 2 had brainstem pathology and 2 did not. The relevance of these findings is discussed in relation to views concerning the functions of the cerebellum.