Focal hand dystonia in musicians is a strongly task-related movement disorder. Typically, symptoms become apparent only when players execute specific overpracticed skilled exercises on their instrument. We therefore examined five guitarists with functional MRI during dystonic symptom provocation by means of an adapted guitar inside the magnet. The activation patterns obtained in comparable nondystonic guitarists and in the study patients when performing normal-hand exercise served as references. A 1.5-T system equipped with echo-speed gradients and single-shot echoplanar imaging software was used. Data acquisition was centered on the cortical motor system encompassed in eight contiguous slices. Dystonic musicians compared with both control situations showed a significantly larger activation of the contralateral primary sensorimotor cortex that contrasted with a conspicuous bilateral underactivation of premotor areas. Our results coincide with studies of other dystonia types in that they show an abnormal recruitment of cortical areas involved in the control of voluntary movement. However, they do suggest that the primary sensorimotor cortex, rather than being underactive in idiopathic dystonic patients, may be overactive when tested during full expression of the task-induced movement disorder.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.