Impaired sensorimotor integration in focal hand dystonia patients in the absence of symptoms

Wu, C. Carolyn, Fairhall, Scott L., McNair, Nicolas A., Hamm, Jeff P., Kirk, Ian J., Cunnington, Ross, Anderson, Tim and Lim, Vanessa K. (2009) Impaired sensorimotor integration in focal hand dystonia patients in the absence of symptoms. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 81 6: 659-665. doi:10.1136/jnnp.2009.185637

Author Wu, C. Carolyn
Fairhall, Scott L.
McNair, Nicolas A.
Hamm, Jeff P.
Kirk, Ian J.
Cunnington, Ross
Anderson, Tim
Lim, Vanessa K.
Title Impaired sensorimotor integration in focal hand dystonia patients in the absence of symptoms
Journal name Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0022-3050
Publication date 2009-12-03
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1136/jnnp.2009.185637
Volume 81
Issue 6
Start page 659
End page 665
Total pages 7
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher B M J Group
Collection year 2010
Language eng
Subject C1
170101 Biological Psychology (Neuropsychology, Psychopharmacology, Physiological Psychology)
970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Formatted abstract

Functional imaging studies of people with focal hand dystonia (FHD) have indicated abnormal activity in sensorimotor brain regions. Few studies however, have examined FHD during movements that do not provoke symptoms of the disorder. It is possible, therefore, that any differences between FHD and controls are confounded by activity due to the occurrence of symptoms. Thus, in order to characterise impairments in patients with FHD during movements that do not induce dystonic symptoms, we investigated the neural correlates of externally paced finger tapping movements.


Functional MRI (fMRI) was used to compare patients with FHD to controls with respect to activation in networks modulated by task complexity and hand used to perform simple and complex tapping movements.


In the ‘complexity network,’ patients with FHD showed significantly less activity relative to controls in posterior parietal cortex, medial supplementary motor area (SMA), anterior putamen and cerebellum. In the ‘hand network,’ patients with FHD showed less activation than controls in primary motor (M1) and somatosensory (S1) cortices, SMA and cerebellum. Conjunction analysis revealed that patients with FHD demonstrated reduced activation in the majority of combined network regions (M1, S1 and cerebellum).


Dysfunction in FHD is widespread in both complexity and hand networks, and impairments are demonstrated even when performing tasks that do not evoke dystonic symptoms. These results suggest that such impairments are inherent to, rather than symptomatic of, the disorder.   © Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
Keyword Writers cramp
Motor cortex
Finger movements
Task complexity
Human brain
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Queensland Brain Institute Publications
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 20 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 29 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 18 Jan 2010, 16:22:29 EST by Debra McMurtrie on behalf of Queensland Brain Institute