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Musician’s Dystonia

November 21, 2016

Neuroscientists are looking for the roots of musician’s dystonia, a condition similar to writer’s cramp.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Inside musician’s dystonia. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Musicians’ livelihoods depend on fine motor control of their fingers. But all that practice can sometimes lead to “musician’s dystonia”, which causes the muscles of the hands to cramp up while playing. University of Western Ontario neuroscientist Naveed Ejaz says the condition has put an end to some professional careers.

NAVEED EJAZ (University of Western Ontario):

And what is it about how the brain is organized that if you hypertrain a system, that it falls into this disease state?

HIRSHON:

So far, his team has discovered that dystonia patients can’t move each finger independently. But even so, the problem doesn’t seem to be due to some mix up in the part of the brain that controls hand movements, as previously thought. At the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, Ejaz expressed hope that getting to the root causes of the condition will lead to better therapies.

EJAZ:

You really want to help people that are afflicted with the condition.

HIRSHON:

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard