Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation as a Treatment for Patients with Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome

Grant Type
Grant Year
Institution Location
Institution Organization Name
University College of London UK
Investigators Name
Muenchau, Dr. Alexander

Symptoms of Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome (TS) can often be improved by drugs, but these can sometimes have troublesome side effects. We want to study a new form of treatment that is called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). It is an established and safe method that has been used for a number of years to study the function of the brain. The principle of this method is that brief, painless magnetic pulses are applied to certain areas of the scalp by means of an insulated wire coil. The magnetic pulses cause small electrical currents in the outer part of the brain, and thereby affect the function of these brain areas. Repetitive TMS has been shown to be a useful treatment in some disorders affecting the central nervous system, e.g. depression. Results of imaging studies suggest that some brain areas are overactive in TS. So far it is not entirely clear whether this overactivity is responsible for tics and vocalizations, or whether it reflects the person’s effort to suppress tics and noises. We assume that the overactivity observed is important in the generation of these symptoms. We will use low frequency repetitive TMS over these areas because this type of stimulation will lead to inhibition of overactive brain areas. We hope that the function in these areas can thus be normalized and symptoms reduced. Repetitive TMS will be applied for approximately 20 minutes daily on three consecutive days. As effects on the brain caused by magnetic stimulation outlast the stimulation, we hope to produce a long lasting response. The outcome of the study will be determined using established rating scales including blinded video assessment. Apart from exploring a new treatment for TS, the results of this study may also shed light on the mechanisms of tic generation and suppression. Dr. Alexander Muenchau, Professor Mary M. Robertson, Institute of Neurology University College London, London, UK Award: $40,000 Tourette Association of America Inc. – Research Grant Award 2000-2001