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Current Research

The TAA is the only national organization that invests in research for Tourette Syndrome (TS) and Tic Disorders. This research has led to increased knowledge, cutting-edge treatments, and improved care. 

This important research is carried out by leading Young Investigators in the field of TS, Tic Disorders, and related disabilities and we invite you to join us in supporting their efforts. When you invest in research, there is a clear and direct impact on the lives of individuals with TS.

In addition, we would like to expand our research efforts into the field of Humanities and Social Sciences. By doing so, it will allow us to meaningfully address key focus areas that inform more than just the medical aspects of the condition, such as exploring creativity and the arts, interpersonal relationships, and so much more.

Because of research, we understand:

Support Research

In 2022, we need over $600,000 to invest in research that will pave the way for the future, making life incrementally better for all impacted.

2021-2022 Research Projects:

Hypothalamic-basal ganglia circuit control of stress-induced repetitive behavior Elizabeth Manning, PhD School of Biomedical Sciences & Pharmacy, University of Newcastle

Elucidating the physiological source of striatal histamine: the bed nucleus of stria terminalis as a key participant of striatal development in Tourette Syndrome
Ricardo Marquez Gomez, PhD
Department of Pharmacology, University of Oxford

The neural correlates of anger in Tourette syndrome Simon Morand-Beaulieu, PhD Yale Child Study Center
Interrogating the molecular and cellular basis of Tourette Syndrome using human induced pluripotent stem cells Changhui Pak, PhD University of Massachusetts Amherst

Investigating Distress Tolerance in Adults with Tourette Syndrome
Kesley Ramsey, PhD
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Highlighting Past Projects:

DEVELOPING GAME PLAY TO ENHANCE BEHAVIOR THERAPY
Gal Raz, PhD, Tel-Aviv University and Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center
Developing and validating a neuroscientifically-informed gamified tic therapy platform to enhance exposure and response prevention (ERP) behavioral treatment in Tic Disorders by increasing the efficiency and compliance with the treatment.

INVESTIGATING NEURON ACTIVITY DYSFUNCTION
Max Tischfield, PhD, Rutgers University
Investigating changes to neuronal activity and behavior using mouse models for Tourette Syndrome engineered to express human de novo mutations in Celsr3.

EXPLORING BRAIN COMMUNICATION AS A MECHANISM OF COMPULSION
Alik Widge, MD, PhD, University of Minnesota
Studying how brain areas communicate to produce more flexible or more rigid, compulsive behavior, to understand both the tics and the obsessive-compulsive symptoms of TS.

EXAMINING BRAIN ACTIVITY TO DEVELOP BIOMARKERS
Davis Alan Isaacs, MD, PhD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Identifying markers of brain activity associated with premonitory urge and sensory processing dysfunction in Tourette Syndrome. This work aims to deepen insight into mechanisms of Tourette Syndrome sensory symptoms and to facilitate development of clinically meaningful biomarkers.

STUDYING BRAIN MECHANISMS UNDERLYING TOURETTE SYNDROME Marc Fuccillo, MD PhD, University of Pennsylvania Learning from a gene associated with Tourette Syndrome (Neurexin 1a) to understand brain circuit differences that drive Tourette symptoms.
STUDYING THE INFLUENCE OF HORMONES ON THE BRAIN Kristen Delevich, PhD, UC Berkeley Studying the influence of puberty on brain circuits involved in behavioral control to understand why Tourette symptoms typically change during adolescence.
STUDYING BRAIN IMAGING TO UNDERSTAND MOTOR ACTIVITY Iain Perkes, MD, Prince of Wales Hospital Using brain imaging to understand how sensory cues lead to motor activity in people with Tourette Syndrome.

STUDYING LEARNING PROCESSES TO OPTIMIZE TREATMENT OUTCOMES
Joey Ka-Yee Essoe, PhD, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Studying the relationship between therapeutic learning processes and behavior treatment outcomes in youth with Tourette Syndrome with the goal of updating and optimizing interventions like Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT).

Your Dollars in Action

Updates to Past Projects

Dr. Steve Wu has been studying transcranial magnetic stimulation and imaging markers related to tic control in children/ teens with Tourette Syndrome. The findings show that the pre-supplementary motor area’s activity, which is important for controlling motor movements, is less active in TS patients. Furthermore, lower activity is consistent with more tics. We also used a unique MRI method called diffusion tensor imaging to characterize brain pathways. We found differences in pathways that connect the two sides of the brain. The findings could partly explain problems in how the pre-supplementary motor area regulates the motor system in Tourette Syndrome. Continuing to understand what happens in
the brain when tics are suppressed could provide insight on ways to target that mechanism to reduce tic frequency.

Dr. Sharon Anavi-Goffer has been studying the receptors for THC. The findings suggest that TS/ADHD with or without OCD are actually a single clinical entity derived from enhancement of the cannabinoid CB2 receptor activity during postnatal development. We found that one of the drugs that interferes with the CB2 receptor, called MH, reduces tic-like behaviors, inhibits hyperactivity, reduces compulsion-like behavior and restores attention. Most importantly, although a postnatal mechanism is involved, the therapeutic effects of MH were found even when it was administrated during adolescence or adulthood, therefore, speeding up the development of MH as a new drug for patients with Tourette Syndrome is our next goal.

Dr. Wissam Deeb has been studying Deep Brain Stimulation, particularly the use of skin-attached sensors to automatically detect and characterize tics. Between 2018-2020, we tested this approach and found that this system performed well in detecting motor tics with an accuracy between 75% to 90%. This system allows tics to be better measured both for visits to the doctor and for research purposes.