Neural correlates of behavior therapy for Tourette's disorder

Thilo Deckersbach, Tina Chou, Jennifer C Britton, Lindsay E Carlson, Hannah E Reese, Jedidiah Siev, Lawrence Scahill, John C Piacentini, Douglas W Woods, John T Walkup, Alan L Peterson, Darin D Dougherty, Sabine Wilhelm
Psychiatry Research 2014 December 30, 224 (3): 269-74
Tourette's disorder, also called Tourette syndrome (TS), is characterized by motor and vocal tics that can cause significant impairment in daily functioning. Tics are believed to be due to failed inhibition of both associative and motor cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical pathways. Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT), which is an extension of Habit Reversal Therapy (HRT), teaches patients to become more aware of sensations that reliably precede tics (premonitory urges) and to initiate competing movements that inhibit the occurrence of tics. In this study, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the neural changes associated with CBIT treatment in subjects with TS. Eight subjects with TS were matched with eight healthy controls in gender, education, age, and handedness. Subjects completed the Visuospatial Priming (VSP) task, a measure of response inhibition, during fMRI scanning before and after CBIT treatment (or waiting period for controls). For TS subjects, we found a significant decrease in striatal (putamen) activation from pre- to post-treatment. Change in VSP task-related activation from pre- to post-treatment in Brodmann's area 47 (the inferior frontal gyrus) was negatively correlated with changes in tic severity. CBIT may promote normalization of aberrant cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical associative and motor pathways in individuals with TS.

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