Cerebello-cortical network fingerprints differ between essential, Parkinson's and mimicked tremors

Brain. 2018 Jun 1;141(6):1770-1781. doi: 10.1093/brain/awy098.


Cerebello-thalamo-cortical loops play a major role in the emergence of pathological tremors and voluntary rhythmic movements. It is unclear whether these loops differ anatomically or functionally in different types of tremor. We compared age- and sex-matched groups of patients with Parkinson's disease or essential tremor and healthy controls (n = 34 per group). High-density 256-channel EEG and multi-channel EMG from extensor and flexor muscles of both wrists were recorded simultaneously while extending the hands against gravity with the forearms supported. Tremor was thereby recorded from patients, and voluntarily mimicked tremor was recorded from healthy controls. Tomographic maps of EEG-EMG coherence were constructed using a beamformer algorithm coherent source analysis. The direction and strength of information flow between different coherent sources were estimated using time-resolved partial-directed coherence analyses. Tremor severity and motor performance measures were correlated with connection strengths between coherent sources. The topography of oscillatory coherent sources in the cerebellum differed significantly among the three groups, but the cortical sources in the primary sensorimotor region and premotor cortex were not significantly different. The cerebellar and cortical source combinations matched well with known cerebello-thalamo-cortical connections derived from functional MRI resting state analyses according to the Buckner-atlas. The cerebellar sources for Parkinson's tremor and essential tremor mapped primarily to primary sensorimotor cortex, but the cerebellar source for mimicked tremor mapped primarily to premotor cortex. Time-resolved partial-directed coherence analyses revealed activity flow mainly from cerebellum to sensorimotor cortex in Parkinson's tremor and essential tremor and mainly from cerebral cortex to cerebellum in mimicked tremor. EMG oscillation flowed mainly to the cerebellum in mimicked tremor, but oscillation flowed mainly from the cerebellum to EMG in Parkinson's and essential tremor. The topography of cerebellar involvement differed among Parkinson's, essential and mimicked tremors, suggesting different cerebellar mechanisms in tremorogenesis. Indistinguishable areas of sensorimotor cortex and premotor cerebral cortex were involved in all three tremors. Information flow analyses suggest that sensory feedback and cortical efferent copy input to cerebellum are needed to produce mimicked tremor, but tremor in Parkinson's disease and essential tremor do not depend on these mechanisms. Despite the subtle differences in cerebellar source topography, we found no evidence that the cerebellum is the source of oscillation in essential tremor or that the cortico-bulbo-cerebello-thalamocortical loop plays different tremorogenic roles in Parkinson's and essential tremor. Additional studies are needed to decipher the seemingly subtle differences in cerebellocortical function in Parkinson's and essential tremors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebellum / physiopathology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromyography
  • Essential Tremor / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology*