Cerebellar contributions to locomotor adaptations during splitbelt treadmill walking

Susanne M. Morton, Amy J. Bastian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Locomotor adaptability ranges from the simple and fast-acting to the complex and long-lasting and is a requirement for successful mobility in an unpredictable environment. Several neural structures, including the spinal cord, brainstem, cerebellum, and motor cortex, have been implicated in the control of various types of locomotor adaptation. However, it is not known which structures control which types of adaptation and the specific mechanisms by which the appropriate adjustments are made. Here, we used a splitbelt treadmill to test cerebellar contributions to two different forms of locomotor adaptation in humans.Wefound that cerebellar damage does not impair the ability to make reactive feedback-driven motor adaptations, but significantly disrupts predictive feedforward motor adaptations during splitbelt treadmill locomotion. Our results speak to two important aspects of locomotor control. First, we have demonstrated that different levels of locomotor adaptability are clearly dissociable. Second, the cerebellum seems to play an essential role in predictive but not reactive locomotor adjustments. We postulate that reactive adjustments may instead be predominantly controlled by lower neural centers, such as the spinal cord or brainstem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9107-9116
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number36
StatePublished - Sep 6 2006


  • Adaptation
  • Central pattern generator
  • Cerebellum
  • Human
  • Locomotion
  • Motor learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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