Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tourettes brains are structured for greater, not lesser, cognitive motor control

Date:
March 26, 2011
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Contrary to intuition, people who suffer from the motor and vocal tics characteristic of Tourette syndrome actually perform behavioral tests of cognitive motor control more accurately and quickly than their typically developing peers do. According to a new study, that enhanced control arises from structural and functional changes in the brain that likely come about from the need to constantly suppress tics.

Contrary to intuition, people who suffer from the motor and vocal tics characteristic of Tourette syndrome actually perform behavioral tests of cognitive motor control more accurately and quickly than their typically developing peers do. According to evidence reported online on March 24 in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, that enhanced control arises from structural and functional changes in the brain that likely come about from the need to constantly suppress tics.

"The motor outputs of children with Tourette syndrome are under greater cognitive control," said Stephen Jackson of The University of Nottingham. "You might view this as their being less likely to respond without thinking, or as being less reflexive."

The researchers say that the findings may help to explain a long-standing puzzle in the field -- why some individuals who have profound tics during childhood are relatively tic-free by early adulthood, whereas other individuals continue to have severe tics throughout their life. It also suggests that "brain training" approaches may help individuals gain control of symptoms associated with Tourettes and perhaps other neurological diseases, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), without the need for drugs or surgeries that may carry significant adverse effects.

An earlier study had shown that children with Tourette syndrome show enhanced cognitive control over their motor outputs and that the degree of their enhancement is inversely related to tic severity. Those findings offered the first indication that control over motor and vocal tics might be something that could be trained.

Based on that evidence, Jackson and colleagues wondered whether those enhanced cognitive control abilities might be accompanied by structural and/or functional alterations in the brains of individuals with Tourettes that might be seen by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

That suspicion has now been confirmed: the Tourettes brain shows alterations in the white-matter connections that allow different brain areas to communicate with one another, Jackson said. Brain scans also revealed changes in activity as indicated by blood flow when people with Tourette syndrome performed an executive function task.

The structural and functional changes observed were also strongly associated with clinical measurements of tic severity and executive function. In particular, the researchers found that changes in the frontal cortex of the Tourettes brain, the region most often linked to executive function, are strongly linked to levels of tic severity and executive task performance. They interpret this as evidence that the frontal cortex of the Tourette syndrome group reorganizes to help control the motor and vocal tics.

"Children growing up with a neurological disorder may develop adaptive changes in the way that their brain is organized that will help them overcome their difficulties and gain control over their symptoms," Jackson said.

There is one potential caveat: it may be that some people are simply born with the propensity to develop a particular profile of brain white-matter connections that allows them to gain control over their tics, whereas others with a different profile may not. To find out, the researchers are now planning a study in which they will follow people with Tourette syndrome and related neurodevelopmental disorders over time as their brains develop.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Stephen R. Jackson, Amy Parkinson, Jeyoung Jung, Suzanne E. Ryan, Paul S. Morgan, Chris Hollis, and Georgina M. Jackson. Compensatory Neural Reorganization in Tourette Syndrome. Current Biology, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.02.047

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Tourettes brains are structured for greater, not lesser, cognitive motor control." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110324153016.htm>.
Cell Press. (2011, March 26). Tourettes brains are structured for greater, not lesser, cognitive motor control. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110324153016.htm
Cell Press. "Tourettes brains are structured for greater, not lesser, cognitive motor control." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110324153016.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins