Medication-Induced Changes in Brain Function in Children with Tourette Syndrome

Grant Type
Grant Year
Institution Location
Institution Organization Name
Washington University
Investigators Name
Church, Jessica, PhD

I plan to carry out a developmental and pharmacological functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) study with Dr. Bradley Schlaggar from Washington University and Dr. Silvia Bunge from the University of California, Berkeley. The main goal of this collaborative study is to explore the effects of common tic medications (clonidine and risperidone) on the behavioral performance and brain activity of children with TS. This comparison will occur while they are performing a task that requires three aspects of cognitive control: flexibly switching between task rules, selecting between competing responses, and inhibiting inappropriate responses. We hope to show that anti-tic medication improves task performance in children with TS, and that performance improvements are related to modification of brain activation patterns. We hypothesize that this study will show fMRI differences between children with TS and children who do not have TS, and that these differences will be reduced when the children with TS receive pharmacological treatment for reducing their tics. The proposed research will provide much-needed data on the neural mechanisms by which anti-tic medications act; or in some cases, fail to act. By examining individual differences in responsiveness to medication, it should be possible to identify the changes in brain function that are associated with the greatest improvements in TS symptoms. Through this postdoctoral research, I hope to provide insight into the mechanism by which tic-reducing medications act on the functioning brain. Such research will form the foundation for future treatment plans that are tailored to individuals’ behavioral and neural profiles. Jessica A. Church, Ph.D Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO Award: $40,000 (Fellowship) TTourette Association of America Inc. – Research Grant Award 2008-2009