The pathophysiological mechanisms of essential tremor (ET) are still not entirely clear. In the present study, we aimed to investigate the cerebello-thalamo-cortical connectivity in ET using the cerebellar continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) and possible effects on tremor and reaching movements. Sixteen patients with ET and 11 healthy subjects underwent two experimental sessions: (i) cTBS over the right cerebellar hemisphere (real cerebellar cTBS) and (ii) cTBS over the neck muscles (sham cerebellar cTBS). The two sessions were performed at least 1 week apart. The effects of real and sham cerebellar cTBS were quantified as excitability changes on contralateral primary motor cortex, as well as possible changes of postural tremor and reaching movements on the ipsilateral arm. Primary motor cortex excitability was assessed by recording the input/output curve of the motor-evoked potentials from the right first dorsal interosseous muscle. Tremor was rated clinically. Objective assessment of tremor and reaching movements was performed using kinematic techniques. Real cerebellar cTBS reduced the excitability in the contralateral primary motor cortex in healthy subjects though not in patients with ET. There was no significant change in tremor severity and reaching movements, as assessed by clinical examination or kinematic techniques, after real or sham cerebellar cTBS in patients with ET. Finally, there was no correlation between individual changes of M1 excitability and kinematic measures of tremor and reaching movement abnormalities in patients with ET. The results suggest that functional cerebello-thalamo-cortical connectivity tested by cTBS is abnormal in ET and that cerebellar cTBS does not ameliorate tremor in this condition.
- Motor control
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology