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Keywords:

  • dystonia;
  • pathophysiology;
  • somatosensory disorder;
  • motor programming;
  • sensorimotor integration

Abstract

For some time, dystonia has been seen as purely a motor disorder. Relatively novel concepts published approximately 10 years ago also presumed that in the development of dystonic dyskinesias, only motor behaviour was abnormal. Neurophysiological observations of various types of dystonic disorders, which were performed using sophisticated electromyography, polymyography, H-reflex examination, long-latency reflex, etc., as well as new insights into the behaviour of dystonia, have urged the inclusion of sensory (particularly somatosensory) mechanisms into the pathophysiological background of dystonia. The major role has been considered to be played by abnormal proprioceptive input by means of the Ia proprioceptive afferents, with the source of this abnormality found in the abnormal processing of muscle spindle afferent information. However, neurophysiological investigations have also provided evidence that the abnormality in the central nervous system is located not only at the spinal and subcortical level, but also at the cortical level; specifically, the cortical excitability and intracortical inhibition have been revealed as abnormal. This evidence was revealed by SEP recordings, paired transcranial magnetic stimulation recordings, and BP and CNV recordings. The current concept of dystonic movement connects the abnormal function of somatosensory pathways and somatosensory analysers with the dystonic performance of motor action, which is based on the abnormality of sensorimotor integration. © 2002 Movement Disorder Society