Corticobasal degeneration is a rare disease 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.

Corticobasal degeneration care at Mayo Clinic


Signs and symptoms of corticobasal degeneration 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, speech and language

Corticobasal degeneration progresses over six to eight years. Eventually, people with corticobasal syndrome can become unable to walk.


The causes of corticobasal degeneration are unknown, but research suggests that a protein in the brain called tau may play a role in the disease. A buildup of tau in brain cells may lead to their deterioration and the symptoms of corticobasal degeneration.

It's important to know that you can have signs and symptoms that look like corticobasal degeneration but that are caused by another degenerative disease of the brain, such as progressive supranuclear palsy, Alzheimer's disease, Pick's disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Half of the people who have signs and symptoms of corticobasal degeneration have another disease.


The symptoms of corticobasal degeneration progress to serious complications, such as pneumonia or sepsis, a life-threatening response to an infection. Corticobasal degeneration complications ultimately lead to death.