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Cereb Cortex. 2009 Sep;19(9):1968-77. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhn224. Epub 2008 Dec 12.

Normalizing motor cortex representations in focal hand dystonia.

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Research Centre for Human Movement Control, Discipline of Physiology, School of Molecular and Biomedical Science, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.


Task-specific focal dystonia is thought to have a neurological basis where stereotypical synchronous inputs and maladaptive plasticity play a role. As afferent input is a powerful driver of cortical reorganization, we propose that a period of asynchronous afferent stimulation may reverse maladaptive cortical changes and alleviate symptoms. Using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), 3 hand muscles were mapped in 10 dystonics and 10 healthy controls. Mapping occurred before and after 1 h of nonassociative stimulation (NAS) to first dorsal interosseous (FDI) and abductor pollicis brevis (APB). Participants performed grip lift, handwriting, and cyclic drawing before and after NAS. Prior to NAS, dystonics had larger maps, and the centers of gravity (CoGs) of the FDI and APB maps were closer together. Dystonics demonstrated impairments in grip-lift, handwriting, and cyclic drawing tasks. Following NAS, map size was reduced in all muscles in dystonic participants and FDI and APB CoGs moved further apart. Among dystonics, NAS produced a reduction in movement variability during cyclic drawing. Thus, 1 h of NAS can reduce the magnitude, and increase the separation, of TMS representational maps. We suggest that these changes reflect some normalization of the representational abnormalities seen in focal dystonia and provide initial, limited evidence that such changes are associated with improvements in circle drawing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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