Neuroplasticity in Tourette Syndrome

Grant Type
Grant Year
Institution Location
Institution Organization Name
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
Investigators Name
Wu, Steve Wei, MD

Neuroplasticity is the capacity of a neural system to adapt, learn, and remember, which depends in some way on use-dependent and experience-dependent changes. Such changes can be helpful when a new skill or knowledge is learned. However, maladaptive changes may lead to symptoms such as tics. At the level of brain cells, adaptive and maladaptive processes occur at the synapse, through processes such as long-term potentiation (LTP) or long-term depression (LTD). Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a technology that enables us to study these processes in the motor cortex in human subjects. A recently developed TMS paradigm called Theta Burst Stimulation (TBS) has been shown to mimic LTP and LTD in the human brain. Prior neuroimaging studies have shown different dorsal prefrontal volumes when comparing Tourette syndrome (TS) patients and controls. Since the frontal lobe is involved in response inhibition, abnormal neuroplasticity may possibly explain the different dorsal prefrontal volumes in Tourette syndrome. Therefore, our hypothesis is that neuroplasticity as measured by TMS-TBS is abnormal in the TS population. Our pilot data with nine TS adults and eleven age-matched controls suggests that the motor cortex LTP in response to intermittent TBS is decreased in TS subjects. This TSA funding will enable us to study the developmental trajectory for neuroplasticity in TS and to understand whether this relates to the capacity to learn to suppress tics. Our goals are to recruit children with TS/tic disorders and TS adults who have “outgrown” their tics. Steve Wei Wu, M.D., Donald L. Gilbert, M.D. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH Award: $74,837(Fellowship) Commentary: As the brain matures, it strengthens crucial nerve cell connections that enable us to learn and control movements. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a technology that measures certain brain maturation processes. Our preliminary findings show that adults with TS have a decreased response to TMS when compared to individuals without TS. This generous TSA funding will allow us to further explore brain maturation by studying children with tics and adults who have “outgrown” their tics. Tourette Association of America Inc. – Research Grant Award 2010-2011