Could 'training the brain' help children with Tourette syndrome?

Mar 24, 2011

Children with Tourette syndrome could benefit from behavioural therapy to reduce their symptoms, according to a new brain imaging study.

Researchers at The University of Nottingham discovered that the brains of with (TS) develop in a unique way — which could suggest new methods of treating the condition.

The study, published in the journal Current Biology, found that many children with TS experience a 'reorganisation' of the brain structure in their teens, as their brain compensates for the condition and allows them to gain control over their symptoms and tics.

Researchers believe that 'training' the brain to encourage this process — through the use of behavioural therapy — could help young people gain control over their symptoms more quickly and effectively. Effective behavioural therapies could involve habit reversal therapy.

The findings have significant implications because they suggest an alternative to drug-based therapies, which can have unwanted side-effects including weight gain and depression.

Study authors Professor Stephen Jackson and Professor Georgina Jackson used brain imaging and behavioural techniques to study a group of children with TS compared to a control group.

Stephen Jackson, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience in the School of Psychology, said: "We had previously shown, somewhat paradoxically, that children with Tourette syndrome have greater control over their motor behaviour than typically-developing children of a similar age, and we had speculated that this was due to compensatory changes in the brain that helped these children control their tics.

"This new study provides compelling evidence that this enhanced control of motor output is accompanied by structural and functional alterations within the . This finding suggests that non-pharmacological, 'brain-training', approaches may prove to be an effective treatment for Tourette syndrome."

Tourette syndrome is an inherited neurological condition that affects one school child in every hundred. The key feature of TS is tics — involuntary and uncontrollable sounds and movements such as coughing, grunting, eye blinking and repeating of words.

Across the UK as a whole, TS affects more than 300,000 children and adults. The syndrome tends to be first identified around the ages of six to seven, with tics reaching their maximum level at the age of 12; for about half of children with TS, symptoms continue into adulthood.

Explore further: Sierra Leone faces criticism over Ebola shutdown

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers study children at risk for Tourette syndrome

Jan 04, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Neuroscientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are using sophisticated imaging, neuropsychological testing and clinical evaluations to study children who may be at ...

Recommended for you

Sierra Leone faces criticism over Ebola shutdown

21 hours ago

Sierra Leone began the second day of a 72-hour nationwide shutdown aimed at containing the spread of the deadly Ebola virus on Saturday amid criticism that the action was a poorly planned publicity stunt.

Presence of peers ups health workers' hand hygiene

Sep 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—The presence of other health care workers improves hand hygiene adherence, according to a study published in the October issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

Sierra Leone streets deserted as shutdown begins

Sep 19, 2014

Sierra Leone's normally chaotic capital resembled a ghost town on Friday as residents were confined to their homes for the start of a three-day lockdown aimed at halting the deadly Ebola epidemic.

Sierra Leone launches controversial Ebola shutdown

Sep 19, 2014

Sierra Leone on Friday launched a controversial three-day shutdown to contain the deadly spread of the Ebola virus, as the UN Security Council declared the deadly outbreak a threat to world peace.

User comments : 0