During voluntary limb movements, humans exert anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs) to prevent any upcoming equilibrium disturbance that might be provoked by limb movements. Dysfunction in generation or control of APAs is associated with postural deficits in some human patients with cerebellar damage. To examine the role of the cerebellum in APAs, we investigated a conditional transgenic mouse of spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (SCA3Tg) that has defective cerebellar Purkinje cells. Kinematic analyses and monitoring of electromyographic activities during quadrupedal standing showed that SCA3Tg mice exhibited greater hindlimb instability than wild-type (WT) mice. This instability increased during a reaching task that required postural adjustments associated with voluntary neck movements. Normally, the activities of the hindlimb muscles are synchronized with those in the neck that are the agonists for movement of the head in this reaching task; however, in SCA3Tg mice, activities in the hindlimbs were markedly delayed compared to the neck. These observations cannot simply be explained as a secondary outcome of the muscle atrophy that occurs in SCA3Tg mice. In WT mice with muscle atrophy induced by immobilization of the hindlimbs, we did not find impairment of APAs. These findings suggest that the deficits in APAs during the reaching task in SCA3Tg mice were not due to muscle atrophy in the hindlimbs, but were mainly caused by cerebellar degeneration. Therefore, we conclude that the cerebellum is critically involved in APAs.
Copyright © 2013 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.