Ten-Year Reflections on the Neurophysiological Abnormalities of Focal Dystonias in Humans

Mov Disord. 2019 Nov;34(11):1616-1628. doi: 10.1002/mds.27859. Epub 2019 Oct 8.


The physiological landscape of dystonia has changed considerably over the past 10 years. Initial ideas that dystonic motor symptoms could be explained by a combination of loss of inhibition and increased plasticity, together with subtle deficits in sensory processing, have been questioned, whereas the possible role of the cerebellum has risen in importance. In addition, it has been recognized that symptoms affect more than just the motor and sensory systems and encompass independent cognitive and psychological changes. Finally, it has become clear that, despite similarities in symptoms, there may be pathophysiological differences between idiopathic, inherited, and acquired forms of dystonia. In other words, progress in the pathophysiology of dystonia has followed the usual pattern from an initial phase in which core deficits are readily explained by highly simplified models to a realization that within a highly interconnected network, effects are more nuanced with widespread changes that might either compensate or contribute to the clinical symptoms to different degrees in different individuals. © 2019 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

Keywords: dystonia; inhibition; pathophysiology; plasticity; sensory processing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Cerebellum / physiopathology
  • Dystonic Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Movement Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / physiopathology*