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Eur J Neurol. 2008 Aug;15(8):831-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1331.2008.02196.x.

Increased basal-ganglia activation performing a non-dystonia-related task in focal dystonia.

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Department of Neurology, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.



We tried to determine whether altered sensorimotor cortex and basal-ganglia activation in blepharospasm (BSP) and cervical dystonia (CD) are restricted to areas directly responsible for the innervation of dystonic muscles, or whether impairment in focal dystonia reaches beyond these direct associations supporting a more global disturbance of sensory and motor control in focal dystonia.


Twenty patients with focal dystonia (11 BSP, 9 CD) and 14 healthy controls were investigated with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) performing a simple grip force forearm contraction task.


BSP and CD patients and healthy controls showed similar activation in the pre-motor, primary motor and primary sensory cortex, whilst basal-ganglia activation was increased in BSP and CD with related activation patterns compared with controls. BSP patients had increased activation in the thalamus, caudate nucleus, putamen and lateral globus pallidus, whilst CD patients showed increased activation in the caudate nucleus, putamen and thalamus. No differences in applied grip force were detected between groups.


In both, BSP and CD, increased basal-ganglia activation could be demonstrated in a task not primarily involving the dystonic musculature affected by these disorders. Comparable activation changes may also indicate a common pathway in the pathophysiology in BSP and CD.

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