High motor variability in DYT1 dystonia is associated with impaired visuomotor adaptation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Anna Sadnicka
  • Anna Stevenson
  • Kailash P. Bhatia
  • John C. Rothwell
  • Mark J. Edwards

External organisations

  • Sobell Department for Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders, Institute of Neurology, University College London
  • Motor Control and Movement Disorder Group, Institute of Molecular and Clinical Sciences, St George’s University of London


For the healthy motor control system, an essential regulatory role is maintaining the equilibrium between keeping unwanted motor variability in check whilst allowing informative elements of motor variability. Kinematic studies in children with generalised dystonia (due to mixed aetiologies) show that movements are characterised by increased motor variability. In this study, the mechanisms by which high motor variability may influence movement generation in dystonia were investigated. Reaching movements in the symptomatic arm of 10 patients with DYT1 dystonia and 12 age-matched controls were captured using a
robotic manipulandum and features of motor variability were extracted. Given that task-relevant variability and sensorimotor adaptation are related in health, markers of variability were then examined for any covariance with performance indicators during an error-based learning visuomotor adaptation task. First, we
confirmed that motor variability on a trial-by-trial basis was selectively increased in the homogenous and prototypical dystonic disorder DYT1 dystonia. Second, high baseline variability predicted poor performance in the subsequent visuomotor adaptation task offering insight into the rules which appear to govern dystonic motor control. The potential mechanisms behind increased motor variability and its corresponding implications for the rehabilitation of patients with DYT1 dystonia are highlighted.


Original languageEnglish
Article number3653
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2018


  • cerebellum , dystonia , motor control , movement disorders