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Abnormal head movements.
  1. M A Gresty,
  2. G M Halmagyi

    Abstract

    Abnormal head movements have been studied in a variety of diseases using objective recording techniques and the data analysed with respect to the frequency content of the movement. Flopping, nodding, tic, chorea, myoclonic jerks, and most head tremors involve frequencies of approximately 2 and 4 Hz which correspond to the natural fundamental and second harmonic resonances of the head as determined by the mechanical properties of the head/neck system. These findings provide a basis for classification of abnormal head movements as well as an explanation of the characteristics of those arising from hypotonia of the neck muscles. The similarities between tremor frequencies and natural resonances suggest that in the case of the head, tremor arises from disorders of neural mechanisms normally responsible for the fine control of voluntary head movement and for stabilisation of the head during disturbance of posture. Head movements in cases of congenital nystagmus were found to be of two types. Some were of bizarre waveform, in no way assisted vision, and were taken to be of primarily pathological origin and classified as tremors. Others were learned adaptive responses which assisted vision either by interrupting the nystagmus, as in the case of spasmus nutans, or by compensating for the nystagmus with an inverse waveform and were called nodding. A prerequisite for true compensatory nodding is modified vestibulo-ocular reflex.

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