Overview: This study evaluated deep brain stimulation changes for upper limb cortical motor maps in dystonia (movement disorder).
Conclusion: Deep brain stimulation of the globus pallidus pars interna may reduce the cortical representation and excitability of upper limb muscles in patients with dystonia without clinical improvement.
Deep brain stimulation of the globus pallidus pars interna (GPi-DBS) is an effective treatment for primary dystonia; however, its therapeutic mechanism is poorly understood. Because improvement is gradual, GPi-DBS treatment likely involves short- and long-term mechanisms. Abnormal plasticity resulting in somatotopic reorganization is involved in the development of dystonia and has been proposed as a possible mechanism for this gradual improvement, yet it has not been directly investigated. We hypothesized that GPi-DBS will lead to progressive changes in the cortical representations (motor maps) of upper limb muscles. Neuronavigated robotic transcranial magnetic stimulation was used to map the cortical representation of five upper limb muscles in six healthy controls and a 45-yr-old female cervical dystonia patient before (Pre) and at four time points (Post5 to Post314), 5 to 314 days after GPi-DBS. Motor map area and volume decreased in all muscles following GPi-DBS, while changes in overlap and center of gravity distance between muscles were variable. Despite these motor map changes, only dystonic tremor improved after a year of DBS; neck position worsened slightly. These preliminary findings suggest that GPi-DBS may reduce the cortical representation and excitability of upper limb muscles in dystonia and that these changes can occur without clinical improvement.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Neuronavigated robotic transcranial magnetic stimulation was used to investigate changes in upper limb muscle representation in a cervical dystonia patient before and at four time points up to 314 days after globus pallidus pars interna deep brain stimulation (GPi-DBS). GPi-DBS altered excitability and motor cortical representation of upper limb muscles; however, these changes were not associated with clinical improvement.