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Keywords:

  • somatosensory system;
  • temporal discrimination;
  • muscle afferents;
  • proprioception;
  • kinesthesia;
  • dystonia

Abstract

Although movement abnormalities are predominant symptoms of dystonia, patients also have alterations in temporal as well as spatial discrimination of cutaneous inputs. Here, we use a recently described method to test whether deficits also exist in temporal discrimination of proprioceptive inputs. Percutaneous electrical stimulation of the motor point of the first dorsal interosseous (FDI) muscle, and of the flexor carpii radialis (FCR) muscle separately, was used to produce a nonpainful contraction of the muscles that caused index finger abduction and wrist flexion, respectively. In 10 patients with writer's cramp and in 10 healthy subjects, pairs of stimuli separated by different time intervals were given and subjects were asked to report whether they perceived a single or a double index finger abduction movement or wrist flexion. The threshold value was the shortest interval at which the subjects reported two separated movements (temporal discrimination motor threshold [TDMT]). In both writer's cramp patients and controls, TDMTs were higher for FCR than for FDI. But in contrast to the reduced temporal discrimination reported for cutaneous sensation, there was no significant difference in either muscle between TDMT in patients and normal subjects. We conclude that temporal processing of muscle and cutaneous afferents is differentially affected in focal hand dystonia. © 2006 Movement Disorder Society