Cortical visuomotor interactions in Freezing of Gait: A TMS approach.

Objectives

Altered cortical visuomotor integration has been involved in the pathophysiology of freezing of gait (FoG) in parkinsonism. The aim of this study was to assess the connections between the primary visual (V1) and motor (M1) areas with a paired-pulse, twin-coil transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) technique in patients with FoG.

Methods

Twelve Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients suffering from levodopa-responsive-FoG (off-FoG) were compared with 12 PD patients without FoG and 12 healthy subjects of similar age/sex. In the “off” condition, visuomotor connections (VMCs) were assessed bilaterally. A conditioning stimulus over the V1 phosphene hotspot was followed at interstimulus intervals (ISIs) of 18 and 40 ms by a test stimulus over M1, to elicit motor evoked potentials (MEPs) in the contralateral first dorsal interosseous muscle.

Results

Significant (P < 0.01), bilateral effects due to VMCs were detected in all three groups, consisting of a MEP suppression at ISI 18 and 40 ms. However, in PD patients with FoG, the MEP suppression was significantly (P < 0.05) enhanced, both at ISI 18–40 ms, in comparison with the other two groups. The phenomenon was limited to the right hemisphere.

Conclusions

PD patients with FoG showed an excessive inhibitory response of the right M1 to inputs travelling from V1 at given ISIs. Right-sided alterations of the cortical visuomotor integration may contribute to the pathophysiology of FoG.

Reference:

Strigaro G, Barbero P, Pizzamiglio C, Magistrelli L, Gori B, Comi C, Varrasi C, Cantello R. Cortical visuomotor interactions in Freezing of Gait: A TMS approach. Neurophysiol Clin. 2020 Jul;50(3):205-212. doi: 10.1016/j.neucli.2020.04.001. Epub 2020 Apr 27. PMID: 32354665.


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