OBJECTIVE: Previous studies have demonstrated voluntary movement alterations as well as motor cortex excitability and plasticity changes in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). To investigate the pathophysiology of movement abnormalities in MCI, we tested possible relationships between movement abnormalities and primary motor cortex alterations in patients.
METHODS: Fourteen amnestic MCI (aMCI) patients and 16 healthy controls were studied. Cognitive assessment was performed using clinical scales. Finger tapping was recorded by a motion analysis system. Transcranial magnetic stimulation was used to test the input/output curve of motor evoked potentials, intracortical inhibition, and short-latency afferent inhibition. Primary motor cortex plasticity was probed by theta burst stimulation. We investigated correlations between movement abnormalities, clinical scores, and cortical neurophysiological parameters.
RESULTS: MCI patients showed less rhythmic movement but no other movement abnormalities. Cortical excitability measures were normal in patients, whereas plasticity was reduced. Movement rhythm abnormalities correlated with frontal dysfunction scores.
CONCLUSION: Our study in MCI patients demonstrated abnormal voluntary movement and plasticity changes, with no correlation between the two. Altered rhythm correlated with frontal dysfunction.
SIGNIFICANCE: Our results contribute to the understanding of pathophysiological mechanisms of motor impairment in MCI.