Because the sequencing property is one of the functions in which cerebellar circuits are involved, it is important to analyze the features of sequential learning in the presence of cerebellar damage. Hemicerebellectomized and control rats were tested in a four-choice visuomotor learning task that required both the detection of a specific sequence of correct choices and the acquisition of procedural rules about how to perform the task. The findings indicate that the presence of the hemicerebellectomy did not affect the first phases of detection and acquisition of the sequential visuomotor task, delayed but did not prevent the learning of the sequential task, slowed down speed-up and proceduralization phases, and loosened the reward-response associative structure. The performances of hemicerebellectomized animals in the serial learning task as well as in the open field task demonstrated that the delayed sequential learning task could not be ascribed to impairment of motor functions or discriminative abilities or to low levels of motivation. The delay in sequential learning observed in the presence of a cerebellar lesion appeared to be related mainly to a delay of the automatization of the response. In conclusion, it may be advanced that, through cortical and subcortical connections, the cerebellum provides the acquisition of rapid and accurate sensory-guided sequence of responses. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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