Abstract

Background

Task‐specific focal dystonias selectively affect movements during the production of highly learned and complex motor behaviors. Manifestation of some task‐specific focal dystonias, such as musician’s dystonia, has been associated with excessive practice and overuse, whereas the etiology of others remains largely unknown.

Objectives

In this study, we aimed to examine the neural correlates of task‐specific dystonias in order to determine their disorder‐specific pathophysiological traits.

Methods

Using multimodal neuroimaging analyses of resting‐state functional connectivity, voxel‐based morphometry and tract‐based spatial statistics, we examined functional and structural abnormalities that are both common to and distinct between four different forms of task‐specific focal dystonias.

Results

Compared to the normal state, all task‐specific focal dystonias were characterized by abnormal recruitment of parietal and premotor cortices that are necessary for both modality‐specific and heteromodal control of the sensorimotor network. Contrasting the laryngeal and hand forms of focal dystonia revealed distinct patterns of sensorimotor integration and planning, again involving parietal cortex in addition to inferior frontal gyrus and anterior insula. On the other hand, musician’s dystonia compared to nonmusician’s dystonia was shaped by alterations in primary and secondary sensorimotor cortices together with middle frontal gyrus, pointing to impairments of sensorimotor guidance and executive control.

Conclusion

Collectively, this study outlines a specialized footprint of functional and structural alterations in different forms of task‐specific focal dystonia, all of which also share a common pathophysiological framework involving premotor‐parietal aberrations. © 2019 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society

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