Early detection of the behavioural deficits of neurodegenerative diseases may help to describe the pathogenesis of such diseases and establish important biomarkers of disease progression. The aim of this study was to identify how sensorimotor adaptation of the upper limb, a cerebellar-dependent process restoring movement accuracy after introduction of a perturbation, is affected at the pre-clinical and clinical stages of spinocerebellar ataxia type 6 (SCA6), an inherited neurodegenerative disease. We demonstrate that initial adaptation to the perturbation was significantly impaired in the eighteen individuals with clinical motor symptoms but mostly preserved in the five pre-clinical individuals. Moreover, the amount of error reduction correlated with the clinical symptoms, with the most symptomatic patients adapting the least. Finally both pre-clinical and clinical individuals showed significantly reduced de-adaptation performance after the perturbation was removed in comparison to the control participants. Thus, in this large study of motor features in SCA6, we provide novel evidence for the existence of subclinical motor dysfunction at a pre-clinical stage of SCA6. Our findings show that testing sensorimotor de-adaptation could provide a potential predictor of future motor deficits in SCA6.
- Spinocerebellar ataxia