Extinction of cognitive associations is preserved in patients with cerebellar disease

Katharina M. Steiner*, Sarah Jansen, Nino Adeishvili, Thomas Hulst, Thomas M. Ernst, Oliver Müller, Elke Wondzinski, Sophia L. Göricke, Mario Siebler, Metin Uengoer, Dagmar Timmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

In the present study extinction and renewal of cognitive associations were assessed in two experiments in participants with focal and degenerative cerebellar disease. Using a predictive learning task, participants had to learn by trial and error the relationships between food items and the occurrence of stomach trouble in a hypothetical patient. In the first experiment, focus was on renewal effects. Participants with chronic cerebellar stroke (n = 14; mean age 50.9 ± 12 years), participants with degenerative cerebellar disease (n = 16; mean age 58 ± 12 years), age-, sex-, and education matched controls (n = 20; mean age 53.7 ± 10.8 years) and young controls (n = 19; mean age 23.2 ± 2.7 years) were tested. Acquisition and extinction of food-stomach trouble associations took part in two different contexts (represented by restaurants). In a subsequent test phase, food stimuli were presented in both contexts and no feedback was given. This allowed testing for renewal of the initially acquired associations in the acquisition context. Acquisition and extinction learning were not significantly different between groups. Significant renewal effects were present in young controls only. In the second experiment, focus was on extinction. To control for age effects, 19 young participants with chronic surgical lesions of the cerebellum (mean age 25.6 ± 6.1 years), and 24 age-, sex- and education-matched healthy controls were tested. Acquisition and extinction of food-stomach trouble associations took part in the same context. In the extinction phase, the relationship with stomach trouble was reversed in some of the food items. Acquisition and extinction learning were not significantly different between groups. The main finding of the present study was preserved extinction of learned cognitive associations in participants with chronic cerebellar disease. Findings agree with previous observations in the literature that cognitive abnormalities are frequently absent or weak in adults with cerebellar disease. This does not exclude a contribution of the cerebellum to extinction of learned associations. For example, findings may be different in more challenging cognitive tasks, and in participants with acute cerebellar disease with no time for compensation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107185
JournalNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
Volume169
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

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