Neurological movement disorders

Read more about the current music medicine research projects in neurology.

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Identification of Electrophysiological Biomarkers in Patients with Focal Dystonia

The Focal Dystonia in musicians (MD) is a neurological movement disorder in which the loss of coordination and control of the muscles during the performance on the instrument happens. About 1-2% of professional musicians are affected. The cause of the disease is not yet clear.

In about 25% of cases, patients with MD have a dystonic movement disorder as well. First genes that may be related to the disease have already been identified. Since this form of dystonia only occurs in people who make a lot of music, the question arises whether there are markers with which people can be identified who have a predisposition to develop an MD but are not affected. The Temporal Discrimination Threshold is one such biomarker that has already been established for other forms of dystonia. It specifies the shortest time interval in which two stimuli can be perceived separately.

The aim of the study is to establish the Temporal Discrimination Threshold as a biomarker of MD, which can be used to identify potential gene carriers and, in the long term, new causative genes of the disease. There will be included 20 patients each with an MD, healthy family members, healthy professional musicians and healthy non-musicians (ages 18-70).

Project leader: Prof. Dr. med. Alexander Schmidt, Prof. Dr. med. Andrea Kühn (Department of Neurology with Experimental Neurology)
Project implementation: Dr. med. Friederike Borngraber
Cooperation partner: Prof. Dr. med. Eckart Altenmüller (Institute for Music Physiology and Music Medicine Hannover)
The project is carried out as part of the research network DysTract:
www.research4rare.de/forschungsverbuende/dystract-3/
www.dystract.de

Characterization of cerebellar function in patients with musicians dystonia

The musicians' dystonia (MD) is a neurological movement disorder characterised by the loss of coordination and control of the muscles while playing the instrument. About 1-2% of professional musicians are affected. The cause of the disease is not yet clear.
In recent years, the cerebellum has increasingly become the focus of interest in the pathogenesis. Thus, it could be shown that patients with a MD have reduced cerebellar activity. The aim of the study is to further characterize the extent of cerebellar dysfunction in MD and to investigate its modulability by electrical stimulation. It may be possible to derive a therapeutic benefit for the patients.
For the examination, professional pianists with MD (N = 15, ages 18-70) receive AC, DC, or placebo stimulation over the cerebellum on three days of measurement. By means of MIDI recordings and electroencephalographic recordings (EEG) the effect of stimulation on the piano playing and the electrical brain activity is examined.

Project leader: Prof. Dr. med. Andrea Kühn (Department of Neurology with Experimental Neurology), Prof. Dr. med. Alexander Schmidt
Project implementation: Dr. med. Friederike Borngräber
Cooperation partner: Prof. Dr. med. Eckart Altenmüller (Institute for Music Physiology and Music Medicine Hannover)
The project is carried out as part of the research network DysTract:
www.research4rare.de/forschungsverbuende/dystract-3/
www.dystract.de

Dr. Borngräber is funded in this project as BIH Charité Junior Clinician Scientist.