Current Opinions and Areas of Consensus on the Role of the Cerebellum in Dystonia


A role for the cerebellum in causing ataxia, a disorder characterized by uncoordinated movement, is widely accepted. Recent work has suggested that alterations in activity, connectivity, and structure of the cerebellum are also associated with dystonia, a neurological disorder characterized by abnormal and sustained muscle contractions often leading to abnormal maintained postures. In this manuscript, the authors discuss their views on how the cerebellum may play a role in dystonia. The following topics are discussed:The relationships between neuronal/network dysfunctions and motor abnormalities in rodent models of dystonia.Data about brain structure, cerebellar metabolism, cerebellar connections, and noninvasive cerebellar stimulation that support (or not) a role for the cerebellum in human dystonia.Connections between the cerebellum and motor cortical and sub-cortical structures that could support a role for the cerebellum in dystonia. Overall points of consensus include:Neuronal dysfunction originating in the cerebellum can drive dystonic movements in rodent model systems.Imaging and neurophysiological studies in humans suggest that the cerebellum plays a role in the pathophysiology of dystonia, but do not provide conclusive evidence that the cerebellum is the primary or sole neuroanatomical site of origin.

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