Changes in short-afferent inhibition during phasic finger movement in focal hand dystonia
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In the motor system, one specific movement is generated, and, simultaneously, other possible movements are suppressed; a process called surround inhibition. Focal hand dystonia (FHD) is a movement disorder characterized by a loss of surround inhibition. In order to explain the deficit in surround inhibition induced by volitional movement in FHD patients, we examined the inhibitory circuit activated by afferent stimulation at "long latency". We studied 14 patients (age 48.9+/-13.2 years, 3 females, 11 males) with idiopathic task-related FHD. To measure long-latency afferent inhibition (LAI), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was applied to the affected hemisphere for FHD patients and to the dominant hemisphere for 17 healthy volunteers. Motor evoked potentials (MEPs) were recorded over abductor digiti minimi (ADM) and first dorsal interosseous (FDI) during rest and during voluntary phasic flexion of the second digit. Subjects were given electrical stimulation to either their fifth digit (homotopic to ADM, heterotopic to FDI) or their second digit (heterotopic to FDI, homotopic to ADM) at twice sensory perceptual threshold 180 ms prior to TMS application. Additionally, F-waves were recorded from ADM. At rest, we found a significant decrease in ADM MEP amplitudes with both homotopic and heterotopic stimulation compared to the corresponding non-stimulated trials. There was a trend toward less LAI in FHD patients. During movement, LAI was significantly decreased in both patients and controls. There was no significant group effect. The results for LAI in FDI were similar to those from ADM. F-wave area in ADM was greater during movement for both homo- and heterotopic stimulation. We found no difference in F-wave area between patients and healthy volunteers. Our results indicate that LAI is unlikely to be an underlying mechanism that contributes to the generation of normal surround inhibition in healthy volunteers or in the disruption of surround inhibition in FHD.