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Motor control demands coordinated excitation and inhibition across distributed brain neuronal networks. Recent work has suggested that multiple sclerosis (MS) may be associated with impairments of neuronal inhibition as part of more general progressive impairments of connectivity. Here, we report results from a prospective, multi-centre fMRI study designed to characterise the changes in patients relative to healthy controls during a simple cued hand movement task. This study was conducted at eight European sites using 1.5 Tesla scanners. Brain deactivation during right hand movement was assessed in 56 right-handed patients with relapsing-remitting or secondary progressive MS without clinically evident hand impairment and in 60 age-matched, healthy subjects. The MS patients showed reduced task-associated deactivation relative to healthy controls in the pre- and postcentral gyri of the ipsilateral hemisphere in the region functionally specialised for hand movement control. We hypothesise that this impairment of deactivation is related to deficits of transcallosal connectivity and GABAergic neurotransmission occurring with the progression of pathology in the MS patients. This study has substantially extended previous observations with a well-powered, multicentre study. The clinical significance of these deactivation changes is still uncertain, but the functional anatomy of the affected region suggests that they could contribute to impairments of motor control.

Original publication




Journal article


Exp Brain Res

Publication Date





25 - 31


Adult, Cerebral Cortex, Corpus Callosum, Female, Hand, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Middle Aged, Movement, Movement Disorders, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscle, Skeletal, Nerve Net, Neural Inhibition, Neural Pathways, Prospective Studies, Synaptic Transmission, gamma-Aminobutyric Acid