FMRI Study of the Regional Brain Activations Associated with Motor Tics in TS

Grant Type
Grant Year
Institution Location
Institution Organization Name
Yale University
Investigators Name
Hampson, Michelle, PhD

The aim of this project is to characterize the patterns of brain activity that arise prior to, during, and after the expression of motor tics of patients with TS. A three Tesla functional magnetic resonance imaging (3T fMRI) system will be used. This brain imaging system can resolve the location of brain activity within small structures, such as those comprising the basal ganglia, and thus may clarify the roles that specific subcortical regions play in the primary symptom of TS. In addition, this technology will allow us to investigate the temporal pattern (on the order of seconds) of activity in brain regions associated with tics. Individuals with TS describe sensory sensations immediately preceding their tics that are sometimes perceived as “motivating” the tics. Regardless of whether these “premonitory urges” actually drive the tics, or whether they are a secondary phenomenon, their presence prior to the tics suggests that the neurophysiological processes leading to motor tics are active in the brain for a brief period before the tics begin. If the time between initiation of these processes and the execution of tics is sufficient (i.e. a second or so), it should be possible to examine the time courses of these processes using fMRI. Determining the time courses of different brain regions implicated in motor tics should help clarify the roles of various brain regions. For example, a region involved in tic suppression may be expected to be activated prior to the tics, while a region involved in processing sensory feedback resulting from the tics would not be activated until the tic movements had begun. Learning more about the brain regions involved will enhance greatly our understanding of the basic actions of the brain in tic involvement. Michelle Hampson, Ph.D., Dept. of Diagnostic Radiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven CT Award: $75,000 This study is underwritten through the generosity of Pauline Whitaker and Ginger and Don Whitaker Tourette Association of America Inc. – Research Grant Award 2003-2004