Breska and Ivry studied the strengths and unexpected deficits with people with Parkinson's disease (a form of movement disorder) and cerebellum degeneration in people with cerebellum neurons (the area controlling the brain). Muscle coordination and balance deteriorate and die.
With various tests, they compared how patients treated in computer exercises using time signals from both diseases. When both groups passed at different speeds, they saw the red, white and green squares on their computer screen: they had to press a key at the moment they saw the green square. Traffic lights like amber, white squares warn of green square.
The researchers observed that patients with cerebellar degeneration respond well to these rhythmic signals, although the rhythm of the passage of different squares is constant. However, when the colored squares were followed by a more complex pattern at different intervals between the red and green squares, this sequence was easier for Parkinson's patients to follow.
"Patients with cerebellar degeneration experience problems using non-rhythmic temporal signals, we have shown problems with rhythmic signals in patients with basal ganglia degeneration associated with Parkinson's disease," Ivry said.
The study enabled researchers to establish a link between rhythmic synchronization and basal ganglia and also between interval synchronization and an internal timer and cerebellum based on the memory of previous experiences. Both are primary brain regions associated with movement and cognition.
Furthermore, the results show that if one of these neural clocks fails, the other can intervene theoretically. "Our study demonstrates not only the contexts in which these neurological patients are affected, but also the contexts in which they are not affected, and that we can change their environment to facilitate interaction with the world," he added.
These results open new ways for non-pharmaceutical treatments of people with neurological temporalization disorders: computer games, mobile applications, deep brain stimulation, and environmental sleep modifications can help them overcome these shortcomings.