Are there two different forms of functional dystonia? A multimodal brain structural MRI study

Aleksandra Tomic, Federica Agosta, Elisabetta Sarasso, Igor Petrovic, Silvia Basaia, Danilo Pesic, Milutin Kostic, Andrea Fontana, Vladimir S. Kostic, Massimo Filippi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study assessed brain structural alterations in two diverse clinical forms of functional (psychogenic) dystonia (FD) – the typical fixed dystonia (FixFD) phenotype and the “mobile” dystonia (MobFD) phenotype, which has been recently described in one study. Forty-four FD patients (13 FixFD and 31 MobFD) and 43 healthy controls were recruited. All subjects underwent 3D T1-weighted and diffusion tensor (DT) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Cortical thickness, volumes of gray matter (GM) structures, and white matter (WM) tract integrity were assessed. Normal cortical thickness in both FD patient groups compared with age-matched healthy controls were found. When compared with FixFD, MobFD patients showed cortical thinning of the left orbitofrontal cortex, and medial and lateral parietal and cingulate regions bilaterally. Additionally, compared with controls, MobFD patients showed reduced volumes of the left nucleus accumbens, putamen, thalamus, and bilateral caudate nuclei, whereas MobFD patients compared with FixFD demonstrated atrophy of the right hippocampus and globus pallidus. Compared with both controls and MobFD cases, FixFD patients showed a severe disruption of WM architecture along the corpus callous, corticospinal tract, anterior thalamic radiations, and major long-range tracts bilaterally. This study showed different MRI patterns in two variants of FD. MobFD had alterations in GM structures crucial for sensorimotor processing, emotional, and cognitive control. On the other hand, FixFD patients were characterized by a global WM disconnection affecting main sensorimotor and emotional control circuits. These findings may have important implications in understanding the neural substrates underlying different phenotypic FD expression levels.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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