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Articles by H. R Siebner
Total Records ( 2 ) for H. R Siebner
  S Kloppel , B Draganski , H. R Siebner , S. J Tabrizi , C Weiller and R. S. J. Frackowiak

Involuntary choreiform movements are a clinical hallmark of Huntington's disease. Studies in clinically affected patients suggest a shift of motor activations to parietal cortices in response to progressive neurodegeneration. Here, we studied pre-symptomatic gene carriers to examine the compensatory mechanisms that underlie the phenomenon of retained motor function in the presence of degenerative change. Fifteen pre-symptomatic gene carriers and 12 matched controls performed button presses paced by a metronome at either 0.5 or 2 Hz with four fingers of the right hand whilst being scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging. Subjects pressed buttons either in the order of a previously learnt 10-item finger sequence, from left to right, or kept still. Error rates ranged from 2% to 7% in the pre-symptomatic gene carriers and from 0.5% to 4% in controls, depending on the condition. No significant difference in task performance was found between groups for any of the conditions. Activations in the supplementary motor area (SMA) and superior parietal lobe differed with gene status. Compared with healthy controls, gene carriers showed greater activations of left caudal SMA with all movement conditions. Activations correlated with increasing speed of movement were greater the closer the gene carriers were to estimated clinical diagnosis, defined by the onset of unequivocal motor signs. Activations associated with increased movement complexity (i.e. with the pre-learnt 10-item sequence) decreased in the rostral SMA with nearing diagnostic onset. The left superior parietal lobe showed reduced activation with increased movement complexity in gene carriers compared with controls, and in the right superior parietal lobe showed greater activations with all but the most demanding movements. We identified a complex pattern of motor compensation in pre-symptomatic gene carriers. The results show that preclinical compensation goes beyond a simple shift of activity from premotor to parietal regions involving multiple compensatory mechanisms in executive and cognitive motor areas. Critically, the pattern of motor compensation is flexible depending on the actual task demands on motor control.

  R. C Helmich , H. R Siebner , N Giffin , S Bestmann , J. C Rothwell and B. R. Bloem

Episodic ataxia type 2 and familial hemiplegic migraine are two rare hereditary disorders that are linked to dysfunctional ion channels and are characterized clinically by paroxysmal neurological symptoms. Impaired regulation of cerebral excitability is thought to play a role in the occurrence of these paroxysms, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Normal ion channels are crucial for coordinating neuronal firing in response to facilitatory input. Thus, we hypothesized that channel dysfunction in episodic ataxia type 2 and familial hemiplegic migraine may impair the ability to adjust cerebral excitability after facilitatory events. We tested this hypothesis in patients with episodic ataxia type 2 (n = 6), patients with familial hemiplegic migraine (n = 7) and healthy controls (n = 13). All subjects received a high-frequency burst (10 pulses at 20 Hz) of transcranial magnetic stimulation to transiently increase the excitability of the motor cortex. Acute burst-induced excitability changes were probed at 50, 250, 500 and 1000 ms after the end of the burst. This was done using single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation to assess corticospinal excitability, and paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation at an interstimulus interval of 2 and 10 ms to assess intracortical inhibition and facilitation, respectively. The time course of burst-induced excitability changes differed between groups. Healthy controls showed a short-lived increase in excitability that was only present 50 ms after the burst. In contrast, patients with episodic ataxia type 2 showed an abnormally prolonged increase in corticospinal excitability that was still present 250 ms after the transcranial magnetic stimulation burst. Furthermore, while controls showed a decrease in intracortical facilitation during the 1 s period following the transcranial magnetic stimulation burst, patients with episodic ataxia type 2 had increased intracortical facilitation 1000 ms after the burst. Intracortical inhibition was unaltered between groups. Patients with familial hemiplegic migraine were not significantly different from either controls or patients with episodic ataxia type 2. Together, these findings indicate that patients with episodic ataxia type 2 have an excessive increase in motor cortex excitability following a strong facilitatory input. We argue that this deficient control of cortical excitability may set the stage for the emergence of paroxysmal neural dysfunction in this disorder.

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