Objective: Previous electrophysiological and psychophysical tests have suggested that somatosensory integration is abnormal in dystonia. Here, we hypothesised that this abnormality could relate to a more general deficit in pre-attentive error/deviant detection in patients with dystonia. We therefore tested patients with dystonia and healthy subjects using a mismatch negativity paradigm (MMN), where evoked potentials generated in response to a standard repeated stimulus are subtracted from the responses to a rare "odd ball" stimulus.
Methods: We assessed MMN for somatosensory and auditory stimuli in patients with cervical dystonia and healthy age matched controls.
Results: We found a significant group ∗ oddball type interaction effect (F (1, 34) = 4.5, p = 0.04, ρI = 0.63). A follow up independent t-test for sMMN data, showed a smaller sMMN amplitude in dystonic patients compared to controls (mean difference control-dystonia: -1.0 µV ± 0.3, p < 0.00, t = -3.1). However the amplitude of aMMN did not differ between groups (mean difference control-dystonia: -0.2 µV ± 0.2, p = 0.24, t = -1.2). We found a positive correlation between somatosensory MMN and somatosensory temporal discrimination threshold.
Conclusion: These results suggest that pre-attentive error/deviant detection, specifically in the somatosensory domain, is abnormal in dystonia. This could underlie some previously reported electrophysiological and psychophysical abnormalities of somatosensory integration in dystonia.
Significance: One could hypothesize a deficit in pre-conscious orientation towards potentially salient signals might lead to a more conservative threshold for decision-making in dystonia.
Keywords: Dystonia; Mismatch negativity (MMN); Somatosensory integration.
Copyright © 2018 International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.