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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2013, Article ID 908741, 10 pages
Research Article

The Mechanisms of Movement Control and Time Estimation in Cervical Dystonia Patients

1Central European Institute of Technology, CEITEC MU, Behavioral and Social Neuroscience Research Group, Masaryk University, 625 00 Brno, Czech Republic
2First Department of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, Masaryk University and St. Anne’s Teaching Hospital, 656 91 Brno, Czech Republic
3Department of Psychiatry, University of Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada H3C 3T5
4Functional Neuroimaging Unit, Research Center of the Geriatric Institute Affiliated with the University of Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada H3C 3T5
5Department of Research, Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Center, Montréal, QC, Canada H3C 3T5
6Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Masaryk University and St. Teaching Hospital, 625 00 Brno, Czech Republic

Received 6 June 2013; Revised 26 August 2013; Accepted 28 August 2013

Academic Editor: Mario U. Manto

Copyright © 2013 Pavel Filip et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Traditionally, the pathophysiology of cervical dystonia has been regarded mainly in relation to neurochemical abnormities in the basal ganglia. Recently, however, substantial evidence has emerged for cerebellar involvement. While the absence of neurological “cerebellar signs” in most dystonia patients may be considered at least provoking, there are more subtle indications of cerebellar dysfunction in complex, demanding tasks. Specifically, given the role of the cerebellum in the neural representation of time, in the millisecond range, dysfunction to this structure is considered to be of greater importance than dysfunction of the basal ganglia. In the current study, we investigated the performance of cervical dystonia patients on a computer task known to engage the cerebellum, namely, the interception of a moving target with changing parameters (speed, acceleration, and angle) with a simple response (pushing a button). The cervical dystonia patients achieved significantly worse results than a sample of healthy controls. Our results suggest that the cervical dystonia patients are impaired at integrating incoming visual information with motor responses during the prediction of upcoming actions, an impairment we interpret as evidence of cerebellar dysfunction.