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Brain Cogn. 2005 Jun;58(1):84-93. Epub 2004 Nov 18.

Comparison of patients with Parkinson's disease or cerebellar lesions in the production of periodic movements involving event-based or emergent timing.

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  • 1Department of Psychology and Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California at Berkeley, 3210 Tolman Hall #1650, Berkeley, CA 94720, United States.


We have hypothesized a distinction between the processes required to control the timing of different classes of periodic movements. In one class, salient events mark successive cycles. For these movements, we hypothesize that the temporal goal is a requisite component of the task representation, what we refer to as event-based timing. In the other class, the successive cycles are produced continuously. For these movements, alternative control strategies can optimize performance, allowing timing to be emergent. In a previous study, patients with cerebellar lesions were found to be selectively impaired on event-based timing tasks; they were unimpaired on a continuously produced task. In the present study, patients with Parkinson's disease were tested on repetitive movement tasks in which timing was either event-based or emergent. Temporal variability on either type of task did not differ between on- and off-medication sessions for the Parkinson's patients nor did patient performance differ from that of controls. These results suggest that the basal ganglia play a minimal role in movement timing and that impairments on event-based timing tasks are specific to cerebellar damage.

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