The many roads to tremor.
Brittain JS., Brown P.
Tremor represents one of the most prominent examples of aberrant synchronisation within the human motor system, and Essential Tremor (ET) is by far the most common tremor disorder. Yet, even within ET there is considerable variation, and patients may have contrasting amounts of postural and intention tremor. Recently, Pedrosa et al. (2013) challenged tremor circuits in a cohort of patients presenting with ET, by applying low-frequency deep brain stimulation within thalamus. This interventional approach provided strong evidence that distinct (yet possibly overlapping) neural substrates are responsible for postural and intention tremor in ET. Intention tremor, and not postural tremor, was exacerbated by low frequency stimulation, and the effect was localised in the region of the ventrolateral thalamus in such a way as to implicate cerebello-thalamic pathways. These results, taken in conjunction with the contemporary literature, reveal that pathological changes exaggerate oscillatory synchrony in selective components of an extensive and distributed motor network, and that synchronisation within these networks is further regulated according to motor state. Through a combination of pathological and more dynamic physiological factors, activity then spills out into the periphery in the form of tremor. The findings of Pedrosa et al. (2013) are timely as they coincide with an emerging notion that tremor may result through selective dysregulation within a broader tremorgenic network.