The response of postural wrist tremors to supramaximal median nerve stimulation was examined in patients with hereditary essential tremor (n = 10) and Parkinson's disease (n = 9), and in normal subjects mimicking wrist tremor (n = 8). The average frequency of on-going tremor was the same in all three groups. Supramaximal peripheral nerve shocks inhibited and then synchronised the rhythmic electromyographic (EMG) activity of all types of tremor. The duration of inhibition ranged from 90 to 210ms, varying inversely with the frequency of on-going tremor. There was no significant difference in mean duration of inhibition or in the timing of the first peak after stimulation on the average rectified EMG records between the three groups. The degree to which supramaximal peripheral nerve shocks could modulate the timing of rhythmic EMG bursts in the forearm flexor muscles was also quantified by deriving a resetting index. No significant difference in mean resetting index of the three groups was found. These results suggest that such studies cannot be used to differentiate between the common causes of postural wrist tremors.
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