Abnormal gating of somatosensory inputs in essential tremor

Domenico Restuccia, Massimiliano Valeriani, Carmen Barba, Domenica Le Pera, Annarita Bentivoglio, Alberto Albanese, Marco Rubino, Pietro Tonali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To study whether sensorimotor cortical areas are involved in Essential Tremor (ET) generation. Background: It has been suggested that sensorimotor cortical areas can play a role in ET generation. Therefore, we studied median nerve somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) in 10 patients with definite ET. Methods: To distinguish SEP changes due to hand movements from those specifically related to central mechanisms of tremor, SEPs were recorded at rest, during postural tremor and during active and passive movement of the hand. Moreover, we recorded SEPs from 5 volunteers who mimicked hand tremor. The traces were further submitted to dipolar source analysis. Results: Mimicked tremor in controls as well as active and passive hand movements in ET patients caused a marked attenuation of all scalp SEP components. These SEP changes can be explained by the interference between movement and somatosensory input ('gating' phenomenon). By contrast, SEPs during postural tremor in ET patients showed a reduction of N20, P22, N24 and P24 cortical SEP components, whereas the fronto-central N30 wave remained unaffected. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that in ET patients the physiological interference between movement and somatosensory input to the cortex is not effective on the N30 response. This finding thus indicates that a dysfunction of the cortical generator of the N30 response may play a role in the pathogenesis of ET.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-129
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2003


  • Dipolar analysis
  • Generator source
  • Somatosensory evoked potential
  • Tremor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)


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