Corticobasal degeneration, also called corticobasal syndrome, is a rare condition in which areas of your brain shrink and your nerve cells degenerate and die over time. The disease affects the area of the brain that processes information and brain structures that control movement. This degeneration results in growing difficulty in movement on one or both sides of your body.

The condition may cause you to have poor coordination, stiffness, difficulty thinking, trouble with speech or language, or other problems.


Signs and symptoms of corticobasal degeneration (corticobasal syndrome) include:

  • Difficulty moving on one or both sides of the body, which gets worse over time
  • Poor coordination
  • Trouble with balance
  • Stiffness
  • Abnormal postures of the hands or feet, such as a hand forming a clenched fist
  • Muscle jerks
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Trouble with thinking and language skills
  • Speech problems, such as slow and halting speech
  • Difficulty swallowing

Corticobasal degeneration progresses over six to eight years. Eventually, people with corticobasal degeneration lose the ability to walk.


Corticobasal degeneration (corticobasal syndrome) can be caused by several underlying pathologies. Most commonly, corticobasal degeneration is characterized by a buildup of tau in brain cells, which may lead to their deterioration and the symptoms of corticobasal degeneration. Half of the people who have signs and symptoms of corticobasal degeneration have corticobasal degeneration. The second most common cause of corticobasal degeneration is atypical Alzheimer's disease.

Other causes include progressive supranuclear palsy, Pick's disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.


The symptoms of corticobasal degeneration (corticobasal syndrome) progress to serious complications, such as pneumonia, blood clots in the lungs, or sepsis, a life-threatening response to an infection. Corticobasal degeneration complications ultimately lead to death.

Corticobasal degeneration (corticobasal syndrome) care at Mayo Clinic

Feb. 22, 2022
  1. Factor SA, et al. Corticobasal degeneration. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Oct. 22, 2019.
  2. Braswell Pickering EA. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic. July 1, 2021.
  3. Corticobasal degeneration information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Corticobasal-Degeneration-Information-Page. Accessed Oct. 22, 2019.
  4. Daroff RB, et al. Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. In: Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Saunders Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 22, 2019.
  5. Budson AE, et al. Corticobasal degeneration. In: Memory Loss, Alzheimer's Disease, and Dementia. 2nd ed. Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 22, 2019.
  6. Nardone R, et al. Pathophysiology of corticobasal degeneration: Insights from neurophysiological studies. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience. 2019; doi:10.1016/j.jocn.2018.10.027.
  7. Di Stasio F, et al. Corticobasal syndrome: Neuroimaging and neurophysiological advances. European Journal of Neurology. 2019; doi:10.1111/ene.13928.
  8. Ali F, et al. Corticobasal degeneration: Key emerging issues. Journal of Neurology. 2018; doi:10.1007/s00415-017-8644-3.
  9. Greene P, et al. Progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration and multiple system atrophy. Continuum: Lifelong Learning in Neurology. 2019; doi:10.1212/CON.0000000000000751.
  10. Corticobasal degeneration. Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/46/corticobasal-degeneration. Accessed Oct. 22, 2019.
  11. Alzheimer's disease research centers. National Institute on Aging. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers-disease-research-centers. Accessed Oct. 22, 2019.
  12. Graff-Radford J (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. Nov. 4, 2021.


Products & Services