The cerebral oscillatory network of voluntary tremor

J Physiol. 2004 Feb 1;554(Pt 3):871-8. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2003.051235. Epub 2003 Nov 28.


It has recently been shown that resting tremor in Parkinson's disease is associated with oscillatory neural coupling in an extensive cerebral network comprising a cerebello-diencephalic-cortical loop and cortical motor, somatosensory and posterior parietal areas contralateral to the tremor hand. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether this oscillatory brain network exclusively reflects a pathophysiological state in parkinsonian resting tremor or whether it constitutes a fundamental feature of physiological motor control. We investigated cerebro-muscular and cerebro-cerebral coupling in 11 healthy subjects imitating typical antagonistic parkinsonian tremor. We recorded brain activity with a 122-channel whole-head neuromagnetometer and surface EMGs of the forearm extensor. Analysis of cerebro-muscular and cerebro-cerebral coherence revealed oscillatory coupling in the same brain structures that comprise the oscillatory network of parkinsonian resting tremor. Interestingly, similar to parkinsonian resting tremor, cerebro-cerebral coherences often showed a significant peak at twice the simulated tremor frequency. The most striking differences between parkinsonian patients, as investigated in a previous study and healthy subjects imitating the antagonistic resting tremor were a reduction of the coupling between primary sensorimotor cortex and a diencephalic structure--most likely the thalamus--and an enhancement of the coupling between premotor and primary sensorimotor cortex. Our results indicate that the coupling of oscillatory activity within a cerebello-diencephalic-cortical loop constitutes a basic feature of physiological motor control. Thus, our data are consistent with the hypothesis that parkinsonian resting tremor involves oscillatory cerebro-cerebral coupling in a physiologically pre-existing network.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cerebellum / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Diencephalon / physiology
  • Electromyography
  • Forearm
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*