Preliminary report: activation of the cerebellum in essential tremor

Lancet. 1990 Oct 27;336(8722):1028-30. doi: 10.1016/0140-6736(90)92489-5.


Several images of cerebral blood flow were recorded during inhalation of carbon-15-labelled carbon dioxide by positron emission tomography in four patients with essential tremor and four normal controls. Unilateral involuntary postural tremor in essential tremor patients was associated with blood flow significantly greater than that at rest in the contralateral sensorimotor cortex, both lateral premotor regions, and both cerebellar hemispheres. Of these regions, only the cerebellum was not activated in normal controls holding a posture without tremor or in essential tremor patients undergoing passive wrist movement. The increased flow in the cerebellum therefore seems to represent neural activity involved in tremor generation. It is proposed that essential tremor is due to oscillation within cerebello-olivary pathways, relayed by way of the thalamus and motor cortex to the spinal cord.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Carbon Dioxide / administration & dosage
  • Carbon Radioisotopes / administration & dosage
  • Cerebellum / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebellum / physiopathology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation
  • Color
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Posture
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / methods*
  • Tremor / diagnostic imaging
  • Tremor / physiopathology*
  • Wrist / physiopathology


  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Carbon Dioxide