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Modifications of ongoing tremors and locomotion by sensory feedback.


In principle tremors can be produced by (1) mechanical oscillators (combination of masses and springs), (2) reflex oscillators arising from sensory feedback pathways, or (3) central oscillators generated by single "pacemaker" neurones or interconnected networks. Recent studies supporting each of these mechanisms under certain conditions are discussed. Differences between these mechanisms are clarified by recent studies in Edmonton on the premammillary cat. This preparation shows a prominent reflexly-induced tremor which can be modified by mechanical loading and electrical stimulation. It also shows spontaneous stepping on a treadmill which is known to be produced by a spinal "stepping generator", but can be modified in interesting ways by sensory perturbations. The applicability of these animal studies to human tremors is considered in relation to preliminary studies in Calgary on patients with Parkinson's disease or essential tremor. We have attempted to modify these tremors by application of torque pulses applied to the wrist. The results are described in terms of a normalized "resetting" index which has a high value (greater than 0.6) for all essential tremor patients studied, and a wide range of values for different parkinsonian patients. The resetting index may be useful in determining the relative importance of peripheral and central factors in producing tremor in a variety of patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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