Mechanisms underlying mirror movements in Parkinson's disease: A transcranial magnetic stimulation study



The neural mechanisms underlying unintended mirror movements (MMs) of one hand during unimanual movements of the other hand in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) are largely unexplored. Here we used surface electromyographic (EMG) analysis and focal transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to investigate the pathophysiological substrate of MMs in four PD patients. Surface EMG was recorded from both abductor pollicis brevis (APB) and first dorsal interosseous (FDI) muscles. Cross-correlation EMG analysis revealed no common motor drive to the two APBs during intended unimanual tasks. Focal TMS of either primary motor cortex (M1) elicited normal motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) in the contralateral APB, whereas MEPs were not seen in the ipsilateral hand. During either mirror or voluntary APB contraction, focal TMS of the contralateral M1 produced a long-lasting silent period (SP), whereas stimulation of the ipsilateral M1 produced a short-lasting SP. During either mirror or voluntary finger tapping, 5 Hz repetitive TMS (rTMS) of the contralateral M1 disrupted EMG activity in the target FDI, whereas the effects of rTMS of the ipsilateral M1 were by far slighter. During either mirror or voluntary APB contraction, paired-pulse TMS showed a reduction of short-interval intracortical inhibition in the contralateral M1. These findings provide converging evidence that, in PD, MMs do not depend on unmasking of ipsilateral projections but are explained by motor output along the crossed corticospinal projection from the mirror M1. © 2006 Movement Disorder Society