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      Lesion in the lateral cerebellum specifically produces overshooting of the toe trajectory in leading forelimb during obstacle avoidance in the rat.

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          Abstract

          During locomotion, stepping over an obstacle under visual guidance is crucial to continuous safe walking. Studies of the role of the central nervous system in stepping movements have focused on cerebral cortical areas such as the primary motor cortex and posterior parietal cortex. There is speculation that the lateral cerebellum, which has strong anatomical connections with the cerebral cortex, also plays a key role in stepping movements over an obstacle, although this function of the lateral cerebellum has not yet been elucidated. Here we investigated the role of the lateral cerebellum during obstacle avoidance locomotion in rats with a lateral cerebellar lesion. A unilateral lesion in the lateral cerebellum did not affect limb movements during overground locomotion. Importantly, however, the lesioned animals showed overshooting of the toe trajectory specific to the leading forelimb ipsilateral to the lesion when stepping over an obstacle, and the peak toe position, in which the toe is maximally raised during stepping, shifted away from the upper edge of the obstacle. Recordings of EMG activity from elbow flexor and extensor muscles suggested that the overshooting toe trajectory in the ipsilateral leading forelimb possibly resulted from sustained elbow flexion and delayed elbow extension following prolonged activity of the biceps brachii. These results suggest that the lateral cerebellum specifically contributes to generating appropriate toe trajectories in the ipsilateral leading forelimb and to controlling related muscle activities in stepping over an obstacle, especially when accurate control of the distal extremity is achieved under visual guidance.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          J. Neurophysiol.
          Journal of neurophysiology
          American Physiological Society
          1522-1598
          0022-3077
          Oct 2013
          : 110
          : 7
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan;
          Article
          jn.01048.2012
          10.1152/jn.01048.2012
          23615542

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