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Behav Neurosci. 1988 Feb;102(1):141-7.

Impaired learning of a motor skill in patients with Huntington's disease.

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Psychology Service, San Diego VA Medical Center, La Jolla, California 92161.


The ability of patients with Huntington's disease (HD), patients with dementia of the Alzheimer's type (DAT), and amnesic patients (AMN) to acquire the motor skills underlying a pursuit rotor task was assessed. Differences between groups in initial levels of performance were minimized by adjusting the rotation speed of the disk. The HD and DAT groups were also administered a verbal recognition span test. The results showed that the DAT, AMN, and intact control groups all significantly improved their time on target over six test blocks whereas the HD group was severely impaired in the acquisition of this motor skill. On the verbal recognition span test, the DAT and HD groups were significantly and equally impaired, but the HD group evidenced better immediate and delayed recall than did the DAT group. These results provide further evidence that the basal ganglia are critically involved in the acquisition of motor skills.

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