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Brain. 2003 Dec;126(Pt 12):2710-25. Epub 2003 Aug 22.

Patients with focal arm dystonia have increased sensitivity to slow-frequency repetitive TMS of the dorsal premotor cortex.

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Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders, Institute of Neurology, University College London, UK.


We used PET to examine the pattern and time course of changes produced by repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the dorsal premotor cortex (PMd) in healthy subjects and in patients with primary focal dystonia. Subjects received 1800 stimuli of subthreshold 1 Hz rTMS or sham stimulation to the left PMd. Afterwards, we measured regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) as a marker of synaptic activity at rest and during performance of freely selected random finger movement. In both groups of subjects, real rTMS caused widespread bilateral decreases in neuronal activity in prefrontal, premotor, primary motor cortex, and left putamen. Conversely, rCBF in the cerebellum increased. Effects were equivalent at rest and during movement, indicating that the pattern of movement-related activation did not change. rTMS-induced changes in neuronal activity lasted for at least 1 h except in the medial aspect of the left globus pallidus. Conditioning effects on neuronal activity were larger in the patients than in the healthy subjects: there was a greater decrease of rCBF in lateral and medial premotor areas, putamen, and thalamus, including the stimulated premotor cortex, and a larger increase in cerebellar rCBF. Our findings indicate that, in healthy subjects and patients with dystonia, a single session of rTMS can produce powerful and widespread changes in regional synaptic activity as indexed by rCBF. Since the greater effects of premotor rTMS were not related to any differences in task performance, increased responsiveness of the motor system to rTMS reveals a physiological trait that characterizes patients with focal arm dystonia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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