Voluntarily simulated tremor in normal subjects

Neurophysiol Clin. 2002 Apr;32(2):119-26. doi: 10.1016/s0987-7053(02)00296-4.


Based on the hypothesis that rhythmical, tremor-like movements produced by normal subjects might be influenced by similar central oscillatory neuronal networks believed to determine the features of the pathologic tremors of Parkinson's disease (PD) or Essential Tremor (ET) patients, we examined the neurophysiological characteristics of a tremor mimicked by normal volunteers and compare this data with those from PD or ET tremors. Voluntarily simulated tremor (VST) was studied in 47 neurologically intact subjects, resting tremor in 10 patients with PD and postural tremor in 10 patients with ET. Using a tremor analysis system based on a solid state gyroscopic sensor sensitive to angular rate, the following parameters were determined: frequency, amplitude (angular displacement) and regularity (Q coefficient of constancy). We also performed an inertial loading test and a test-retest analysis. Nearly all normal subjects were able to simulate a tremor that was indistinguishable, in frequency and regularity, from that of PD or ET, although the amplitude was significantly higher in normal subjects. As in pathological tremors, the VST frequency was significantly influenced by age, but not by gender, handedness or previous knowledge of tremor. Inertial load did not modify the tremor frequency, suggesting that mechanical factors were minor. We also found a logarithmic inverse relationship between frequency and amplitude of the VST. We concluded that VST shares many similarities with pathological tremors. It is therefore possible that all tremors are somehow influenced by the same central oscillators which may become disinhibited and clinically apparent in pathological conditions such as PD or ET.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Tremor / physiopathology*