Pallidal activity during dystonia: somatosensory reorganisation and changes with severity

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A woman with progressive, medically intractable right upper limb dystonia underwent a pallidotomy with only transient improvement.During the procedure her dystonia became more severe as the repeatedly made a fist to command in order to provoke dystonia transiently (movement provoked dystonia). Comparisons within cells in the internal segment of the globus pallidus (Gpi) disclosed that the firing rate was the same at rest, with making a fist, and during movement provoked dystonia. However, the firing rate compared between cells decreased significantly throughout the procedure as the patient made a fist repeatedly. During the second half of the procedure the firing rate of cells in the Gpi was similar to that in hemiballismus. The proportion of cells in the GPi which responded to sensory stimulation was significantly higher in dystonia (53%) than in hemiballismus (13%). These results suggest that pallidal activity can correlate inversely with the severity of dystonia, perhaps due to activity dependent changes in neuronal function resulting from repeated voluntary movement.

(J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1998;65:767-770)

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