Intersegmental coordination patterns are differently affected in Parkinson’s disease and cerebellar ataxia

Simon D. Israeli-Korn, Avi Barliya, Caroline Paquette, Erika Franzén, Rivka Inzelberg, Fay B. Horak, Tamar Flash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The law of intersegmental coordination (Borghese et al. 1996) may be altered in pathological conditions. Here we investigated the contribution of the basal ganglia (BG) and the cerebellum to lower limb intersegmental coordination by inspecting the plane’s orientation and other parameters pertinent to this law in patients with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (PD) or cerebellar ataxia (CA). We also applied a mathematical model that successfully accounts for the intersegmental law of coordination observed in control subjects (Barliya et al. 2009). In the present study, we compared the planarity index (PI), covariation plane (CVP) orientation, and CVP orientation predicted by the model in 11 PD patients, 8 CA patients, and two groups of healthy subjects matched for age, height, weight, and gender to each patient group (Ctrl_PD and Ctrl_CA). Controls were instructed to alter their gait speed to match those of their respective patient group. PD patients were examined after overnight withdrawal of anti-parkinsonian medications (PD-off-med) and then on medication (PD-on-med). PI was above 96% in all gait conditions in all groups suggesting that the law of intersegmental coordination is preserved in both BG and cerebellar pathology. However, the measured and predicted CVP orientations rotated in PD-on-med and PD-off-med compared with Ctrl_PD and in CA vs. Ctrl_CA. These rotations caused by PD and CA were in opposite directions suggesting differences in the roles of the BG and cerebellum in intersegmental coordination during human locomotion. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Kinematic and muscular synergies may have a role in overcoming motor redundancies, which may be reflected in intersegmental covariation. Basal ganglia and cerebellar networks were suggested to be involved in crafting and modulating synergies. We thus compared intersegmental coordination in Parkinson’s disease and cerebellar disease patients and found opposite effects in some aspects. Further research integrating muscle activities as well as biomechanical and neural control modeling are needed to account for these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)672-689
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Cerebellar ataxia
  • Intersegmental coordination
  • Parkinson’s disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


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