Procedural learning in Parkinson's disease and cerebellar degeneration

Ann Neurol. 1993 Oct;34(4):594-602. doi: 10.1002/ana.410340414.


We compared procedural learning, translation of procedural knowledge into declarative knowledge, and use of declarative knowledge in age-matched normal volunteers (n = 30), patients with Parkinson's disease (n = 20), and patients with cerebellar degeneration (n = 15) by using a serial reaction time task. Patients with Parkinson's disease achieved procedural knowledge and used declarative knowledge of the task to improve performance, but they required a larger number of repetitions of the task to translate procedural knowledge into declarative knowledge. Patients with cerebellar degeneration did not show performance improvement due to procedural learning, failed to achieve declarative knowledge, and showed limited use of declarative knowledge of the task to improve their performance. Both basal ganglia and cerebellum are involved in procedural learning, but their roles are different. The normal influence of the basal ganglia on the prefrontal cortex may be required for timely access of information to and from the working memory buffer, while the cerebellum may index and order events in the time domain and be therefore essential for any cognitive functions involving sequences.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cerebellar Diseases / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time