Cognitive, Emotional, and Other Non-motor Symptoms of Spinocerebellar Ataxias

Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2024 Mar;24(3):47-54. doi: 10.1007/s11910-024-01331-4. Epub 2024 Jan 25.


Purpose of review: Spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) are autosomal dominant degenerative syndromes that present with ataxia and brain stem abnormalities. This review describes the cognitive and behavioral symptoms of SCAs in the context of recent knowledge of the role of the cerebellum in higher intellectual function.

Recent findings: Recent studies suggest that patients with spinocerebellar ataxia can display cognitive deficits even early in the disease. These have been given the term cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome (CCAS). CCAS can be tracked using newly developed rating scales. In addition, patients with spinocerebellar ataxia also display impulsive and compulsive behavior, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and sleep disturbances. This review stresses the importance of recognizing non-motor symptoms in SCAs. There is a pressing need for novel therapeutic interventions to address these symptoms given their deleterious impact on patients' quality of life.

Keywords: Cerebellar ataxia; Depression; Impulsivity; Non-motor symptoms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebellum
  • Cognition
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life*
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias* / complications
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias* / diagnosis
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias* / genetics