Publication Details

Turner, L. M., Croft, R. J., Churchyard, A., Looi, J. C. L., Apthorp, D. & Georgiou-Karistianis, N. (2015). Abnormal electrophysiological motor responses in Huntington's disease: Evidence of premanifest compensation. PLoS One, 10 (9), e0138563-1-e0138563-14.


Background: Huntington's disease (HD) causes progressive motor dysfunction through characteristic atrophy. Changes to neural structure begin in premanifest stages yet individuals are able to maintain a high degree of function, suggesting involvement of supportive processing during motor performance. Electroencephalography (EEG) enables the investigation of subtle impairments at the neuronal level, and possible compensatory strategies, by examining differential activation patterns. We aimed to use EEG to investigate neural motor processing (via the Readiness Potential; RP), premotor processing and sensorimotor integration (Contingent Negative Variation; CNV) during simple motor performance in HD. Methods: We assessed neural activity associated with motor preparation and processing in 20 premanifest (pre-HD), 14 symptomatic HD (symp-HD), and 17 healthy controls. Participants performed sequential tapping within two experimental paradigms (simple tapping; Go/No-Go). RP and CNV potentials were calculated separately for each group. Results: Motor components and behavioural measures did not distinguish pre-HD from controls. Compared to controls and pre-HD, symp-HD demonstrated significantly reduced relative amplitude and latency of the RP, whereas controls and pre-HD did not differ. However, early CNV was found to significantly differ between control and pre-HD groups, due to enhanced early CNV in pre-HD. Conclusions: For the first time, we provide evidence of atypical activation during preparatory processing in pre-HD. The increased activation during this early stage of the disease may reflect ancillary processing in the form of recruitment of additional neural resources for adequate motor preparation, despite atrophic disruption to structure and circuitry. We propose an early adaptive compensation mechanism in pre-HD during motor preparation.



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