The cerebellum and the timing of coordinated eye and hand tracking

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  • University of Oxford


The cerebellum is known to have important functions in motor control, coordination, motor learning, and timing. It may have other "higher" functions as well, up to and including cognitive processing independent of motor behavior. In this article, we will review some of the evidence from functional imaging, lesion studies, electrophysiological recordings, and anatomy which support the theory that the cerebellum provides a "forward model" of the motor system. This forward model would be used for control of movement; it could also underlie a cerebellar role in coordination. In this role, the forward model would generate time-specific signals predicting the motion of each motor effector, essential for predictive control of, for example, eye and hand movements. Data are presented from human eye and hand tracking that support this. Tracking performance is better if eye and hand follow the same spatial trajectory, but better still if the eye leads the hand by about 75 to 100 ms. This suggests that information from the ocular control system feeds into the manual control system to assist its tracking.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-226
Number of pages15
JournalBrain and Cognition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2002