Objective: The authors sought to study activity in neural circuits that subserve the inhibition of a semi-involuntary motor behavior, eye blinking, in children and adults with Tourette syndrome and in healthy comparison subjects. Method: Functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to scan 120 participants (51 with Tourette syndrome and 69 comparison subjects) as they either blinked normally or successfully inhibited eye blinking. The authors compared the blood-oxygen-level dependent signal during these two conditions across the Tourette and comparison groups. Results: Relative to comparison subjects, patients with Tourette syndrome activated more strongly the frontal cortex and striatum during eye blink inhibition. Activation increased more with age in the dorsolateral and inferolateral prefrontal cortex and caudate nucleus in the Tourette group relative to comparison subjects. In addition, the Tourette group more strongly activated the middle frontal gyrus, dorsal anterior cingulate, and temporal cortices. The severity of tic symptoms in the Tourette group correlated inversely with activation in the putamen and inferolateral prefrontal cortex. Conclusions: Frontostriatal activity is increased in persons with Tourette syndrome during the inhibition of eye blinks. Activation of frontostriatal circuits in this population may help to maintain regulatory control over semi-involuntary behaviors, whether these are tics or eye blinks.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health