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Keywords:

  • music performance;
  • focal dystonia;
  • inhibition;
  • phase synchronization;
  • EEG

Abstract

Recent neurophysiological studies have associated focal-task specific dystonia (FTSD) with impaired inhibitory function. However, it remains unknown whether FTSD also affects the inhibition (INH) of long-term overlearned motor programs. Consequently, we investigated in a Go/NoGo paradigm the neural correlates associated with the activation (ACT) and inhibition of long-term overlearned motor memory traces in pianists with musician's dystonia (MD), a form of FTSD, during a relevant motor task under constraint timing conditions with multichannel EEG. In NoGo trials, the movement related cortical potentials showed a positive shift after the NoGo signal related to inhibition and was significantly smaller over sensorimotor areas in musicians with MD. Further, we observed an increase at 850–900 ms in the power of beta oscillations which was significantly weaker for the patient group. The role of the inter-electrode phase coupling in the sensorimotor integration of inhibitory processes turned out to be the most relevant physiological marker: the global phase synchronization during INH exhibited an increase between 230 and 330 ms and 7–8 Hz, increase which was significantly smaller for pianists with MD. This effect was due to a weaker phase synchronization between the supplementary motor cortex and left premotor and sensorimotor electrodes in patients. Thus, our findings support the hypothesis of a deficient phase coupling between the neuronal assemblies required to inhibit motor memory traces in patients with MD. EMG recorded from the right flexor pollicis longus muscle confirmed that patients with MD had a disrupted INH in NoGo trials. Hum Brain Mapp 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.