Scientists discover likely cause of most common involuntary movement disorder

December 6, 2011

Researchers from the CHUQ research center and Universite Laval have discovered the likely cause of essential tremor (ET), a neurological disorder that affects more than 10 million North Americans. The team's promising findings were published in a recent edition of the scientific journal Brain.

Frequently confused with Parkinson's disease, ET is the most common involuntary movement disorder. An estimated 4% of the population over 40 is affected by this neurological condition which manifests as muscle tremors, normally in the face, neck, and vocal chords.

The research team noticed a decrease in the concentration of GABA receptors in the cerebellum of patients suffering from ET. GABA receptors relay "" which transmit inhibitory information to the different and play an essential role in the human body. A loss of GABA receptors in the cerebellum could affect the function of the cerebellum, an organ beneath the brain that manages communication between the brain and muscles and coordinating movements.

"This is one of the first demonstrations of in the cerebellum in patients with ET. It's a real step forward that opens the doors to new avenues of research, and perhaps to new treatments down the road. It's possible that stimulating GABA receptors could help patients control, or even reduce, ," said Dr. Frédéric Calon, researcher at the CHUQ research center and professor at Université Laval's Faculty of Pharmacy. "This is one of the first times such large sample groups have been used to study ET," he continued.

Explore further: Scientists discover new role for vitamin C in the eye -- and the brain

Related Stories

Omega-3s reduce stroke severity

August 25, 2011

A diet rich in omega-3s reduces the severity of brain damage after a stroke, according to a study conducted by Université Laval researchers. The team, co-directed by professors Jasna Kriz and Frédéric Calon, ...

Conducting how neurons fire

November 25, 2011

Contrary to expectations that the neurotransmitter GABA only inhibited neuronal firing in the adult brain, RIKEN-led research has shown that it can also excite interneurons in the hippocampus of the rat brain by changing ...

Recommended for you

Neuroscientists illuminate role of autism-linked gene

May 25, 2016

A new study from MIT neuroscientists reveals that a gene mutation associated with autism plays a critical role in the formation and maturation of synapses—the connections that allow neurons to communicate with each other.

Teen brains facilitate recovery from traumatic memories

May 25, 2016

Unique connections in the adolescent brain make it possible to easily diminish fear memories and avoid anxiety later in life, according to a new study by Weill Cornell Medicine researchers. The findings may have important ...

Mimicking deep sleep brain activity improves memory

May 26, 2016

It is not surprising that a good night's sleep improves our ability to remember what we learned during the day. Now, researchers at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan have discovered a brain circuit that governs how ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.