Temporal discrimination threshold and blink reflex recovery cycle in cervical dystonia – two sides of the same coin?

Johanna Junker, Theresa Paulus, Valerie Brandt, Anne Weissbach, Sinem Tunc, Sebastian Loens, Richard B. Reilly, Michael Hutchinson, Tobias Baumer*

*Corresponding author for this work
1 Citation (Scopus)


Introduction: Elevated temporal discrimination thresholds (TDT) have been found in cervical dystonia (CD) and unaffected first-degree relatives, indicating autosomal dominant inheritance with reduced penetrance, serving as an endophenotype and being indicative of abnormal inhibitory processing within the brainstem-basal ganglia circuits. The blink reflex R2 recovery cycle (BRRC) is also a measure of excitability of brainstem-basal ganglia circuits, and inconsistent findings are reported in CD. The aim was to investigate TDT and BRRC in CD and evaluate its reliability as an endophenotype. Methods: 29 patients with isolated cervical dystonia (mean age: 56.1 ± 14.3, female n = 18) and 29 age- and gender-matched healthy controls (mean age: 56.0 ± 14.2, female n = 18) were evaluated using a TDT-paradigm, performed as previously described by testing visual, tactile and visual-tactile temporal discrimination thresholds, and the BRRC, investigated with electrical and air puff stimulation. Results: Mean visual-tactile (p = 0.001) and visual TDTs (p = 0.015) differed between CD and controls; tactile TDTs revealed no group differences (p = 0.232). No between group differences were found for BRRC using either electrical or air puff stimulation (p = 0.117). There was no correlation between the elevation of TDTs and the degree of BRRC-inhibition in CD. Conclusion: Our findings support the hypothesis that the TDT is an endophenotype in CD. BRRC testing did not demonstrate disinhibition of brainstem-basal ganglia circuits in CD. In contrast to TDT, the BRRC seems not to represent an endophenotype in cervical dystonia.

Original languageEnglish
JournalParkinsonism and Related Disorders
Pages (from-to)4-7
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 11.2019

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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