Pathogenesis of cortical myoclonus studied by magnetoencephalography

Ann Neurol. 1998 May;43(5):598-607. doi: 10.1002/ana.410430507.


Myoclonus-associated cortical activities were studied by simultaneous recording of a magnetoencephalogram and an electroencephalogram in 6 patients with cortical myoclonus due to various causes. Cortical activities were averaged, with respect to the precise onset of the myoclonic jerk, to evaluate the myoclonus-associated cortical magnetic fields. The estimated generator of their earliest peak was localized at the contralateral precentral gyrus in all patients. As judged from the direction of the electrical current, surface positive activity preceding the electromyographic discharge was detected in 3 patients with cortical reflex myoclonus and in 1 patient with possible corticobasal degeneration. In contrast, in the remaining 2 patients (Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Alzheimer's disease), magnetic fields time-locked to the myoclonic jerk were associated with surface negative activity at the precentral cortex. The present study, applying for the first time an off-line jerk-locked back-averaging analysis to magnetoencephalography, demonstrated the important role of the precentral cortex in generating spontaneous myoclonus. It is most likely that the differing polarity of the electromagnetic activity reflects the differing activation patterns within the cortical laminar structure in the precentral area, underlying the generation of various types of myoclonus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Artifacts
  • Electromyography
  • Electrooculography
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Myoclonus / etiology*
  • Myoclonus / physiopathology*