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Keywords:

  • primary orthostatic tremor;
  • vestibular galvanic stimulation;
  • EMG;
  • coherence;
  • central oscillator

Abstract

Primary orthostatic tremor (POT) is a rare disorder characterised by an intense sense of unsteadiness upon standing and a 16-Hz tremor in which the timing between tremor bursts in different muscles (unilateral and bilateral) remains constant. Hitherto, similar EMG activity has not been described in healthy subjects and it has been postulated that the oscillations seen in POT are primarily pathological. In this study, EMG was recorded from tibialis anterior in healthy subjects who were made unsteady through vestibular galvanic stimulation or leaning backwards. Under these conditions, a peak at approximately 16 Hz was seen in the coherence between the left and right tibialis anterior. This bilateral coherence was absent when the subjects activated the same muscles when not unsteady. These data indicate the existence of a physiological system involved in organising postural responses under circumstances of imbalance and characterised by a highly synchronised output at approximately 16 Hz. In addition, the results suggest that the core abnormality in POT may be an exaggerated sense of unsteadiness when standing still, which then elicits activity from a 16-Hz oscillator normally engaged in postural responses. © 2002 Movement Disorder Society