Imaging reveals abnormalities in pathways connecting brain areas in those with writer’s cramp

Abnormalities in the fibers connecting different brain areas may contribute to muscle disorders such as writer’s cramp, according to a report in the April issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Previous studies of individuals with writer’s cramp have identified changes in the gray matter of several brain areas, according to background information in the article. These include the basal ganglia (structures that help control and start movement), sensorimotor cortex (controls sensory and motor functions), thalamus (coordinates multiple impulses including some related to the senses) and cerebellum (controls voluntary movements, posture and balance).

In the new study, Christine Delmaire, M.D., of Centre Hospitalier Régional Universitaire Roger Salengro, Lille, France, and Institut National de la Santé et de la Récherche Médicale, Paris, studied 26 right-handed patients with writer’s cramp and 26 right-handed control participants who were the same sex and age but did not have writer’s cramp. All participants underwent diffusion-tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DTI), which has been shown to assess the status of white matter (coated nerve fibers that allow impulses to travel through the brain).

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