Mind the gap: temporal discrimination and dystonia.
Sadnicka A., Daum C., Cordivari C., Bhatia KP., Rothwell JC., Manohar S., Edwards MJ.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: One of the most widely studied perceptual measures of sensory dysfunction in dystonia is the temporal discrimination threshold (TDT) (the shortest interval at which subjects can perceive that there are two stimuli rather than one). However the elevated thresholds described may be due to a number of potential mechanisms as current paradigms test not only temporal discrimination but also extraneous sensory and decision-making parameters. In this study two paradigms designed to better quantify temporal processing are presented and a decision-making model is used to assess the influence of decision strategy. METHODS: 22 patients with cervical dystonia and 22 age-matched controls completed two tasks (i) temporal resolution (a randomized, automated version of existing TDT paradigms) and (ii) interval discrimination (rating the length of two consecutive intervals). RESULTS: In the temporal resolution task patients had delayed (P = 0.021) and more variable (P = 0.013) response times but equivalent discrimination thresholds. Modelling these effects suggested this was due to an increased perceptual decision boundary in dystonia with patients requiring greater evidence before committing to decisions (P = 0.020). Patient performance on the interval discrimination task was normal. CONCLUSIONS: Our work suggests that previously observed abnormalities in TDT may not be due to a selective sensory deficit of temporal processing as decision-making itself is abnormal in cervical dystonia.