Altered sensorimotor activation patterns in idiopathic dystonia-an activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis of functional brain imaging studies

Hum Brain Mapp. 2016 Feb;37(2):547-57. doi: 10.1002/hbm.23050. Epub 2015 Nov 9.


Dystonia is characterized by sustained or intermittent muscle contractions causing abnormal, often repetitive, movements or postures. Functional neuroimaging studies have yielded abnormal task-related sensorimotor activation in dystonia, but the results appear to be rather variable across studies. Further, study size was usually small including different types of dystonia. Here we performed an activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis of functional neuroimaging studies in patients with primary dystonia to test for convergence of dystonia-related alterations in task-related activity across studies. Activation likelihood estimates were based on previously reported regional maxima of task-related increases or decreases in dystonia patients compared to healthy controls. The meta-analyses encompassed data from 179 patients with dystonia reported in 18 functional neuroimaging studies using a range of sensorimotor tasks. Patients with dystonia showed bilateral increases in task-related activation in the parietal operculum and ventral postcentral gyrus as well as right middle temporal gyrus. Decreases in task-related activation converged in left supplementary motor area and left postcentral gyrus, right superior temporal gyrus and dorsal midbrain. Apart from the midbrain cluster, all between-group differences in task-related activity were retrieved in a sub-analysis including only the 14 studies on patients with focal dystonia. For focal dystonia, an additional cluster of increased sensorimotor activation emerged in the caudal cingulate motor zone. The results show that dystonia is consistently associated with abnormal somatosensory processing in the primary and secondary somatosensory cortex along with abnormal sensorimotor activation of mesial premotor and right lateral temporal cortex. Hum Brain Mapp 37:547-557, 2016. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: functional magnetic resonance imaging; meta analyses; positron emission tomography; primary dystonia; sensorimotor.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Dystonia / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods
  • Touch Perception / physiology*