• focal dystonia;
  • voxel-based morphometry;
  • blepharospasm;
  • cervical dystonia;
  • torticollis;
  • sensorimotor integration;
  • basal ganglia.


Idiopathic cervical dystonia (CD) and benign essential blepharospasm (BEB) are the most common forms of focal dystonia. Previous autopsy and imaging studies suggested that these disorders are not accompanied by structural brain abnormalities. However, recent brain voxel-based morphometry (VBM) studies of these conditions suggest that there actually may be changes in gray matter. The objective of this stdy was to detect possible gray matter abnormalities in patients with CD and BEB using VBM and to compare the results between the two conditions and with age- and gender-matched controls. High-resolution MRI was employed to evaluate healthy controls and individuals with BEB and CD. Eleven BEB, 9 CD, and 14 healthy control subjects were imaged. VBM revealed alterations of gray matter structures involved in sensorimotor processing in the individuals with focal dystonia. In CD subjects there was increased gray matter in the thalamus, caudate head bilaterally, superior temporal lobe, and left cerebellum, while gray matter was decreased in the putamen bilaterally. BEB subjects had increased gray matter in the caudate head and cerebellum bilaterally as well as decrease in the putamen and thalamus bilaterally. These findings strongly underline the recent notion that idiopathic focal dystonias might have a detectable structural correlate. They also demonstrate structural similarities of the investigated focal dystonias, possibly reflecting a shared common pathophysiological origin. © 2007 Movement Disorder Society