Thinning of sensorimotor cortices in children with Tourette syndrome

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The basal ganglia portions of cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical (CSTC) circuits have consistently been implicated in the pathogenesis of Tourette syndrome, whereas motor and sensorimotor cortices in these circuits have been relatively overlooked. Using magnetic resonance imaging, we detected cortical thinning in frontal and parietal lobes in groups of Tourette syndrome children relative to controls. This thinning was most prominent in ventral portions of the sensory and motor homunculi that control the facial, orolingual and laryngeal musculature that is commonly involved in tic symptoms. Correlations of cortical thickness in sensorimotor regions with tic symptoms suggest that these brain regions are important in the pathogenesis of Tourette syndrome.

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Figure 1: Cortical thickness group differences.
Figure 2: Symptom severity and cortical thickness.


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The authors thank J. Leckman, R. King and L. Scahill for helping to refer participants to the study. Funding support for this work was provided by a US National Institute of Mental Health grant (K01 MH01733) to E.R.S., a US National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Center for Research Resources resource grant (P41 RR013642), NIH Roadmap for Medical Research grant (U54 RR021813) and US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke grant (NS3753) to A.W.T., NIH grants (AG016570, LM05639, EB01651 and RR019771) to P.M.T., and National Institute of Mental Health grants (MHK02-74677, MH59139 and MH068318) to B.S.P.

Author information

The study was conceived and designed by E.R.S. and B.S.P., who also carried out the analysis and interpretation of the data and wrote the manuscript. A.W.T. and P.M.T. reviewed the manuscript and obtained funding for the study, along with E.R.S. and B.S.P. E.K., J.Y., D.X. and R.B. provided administrative, technical and material support. E.R.S. and B.S.P. had access to all the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Correspondence to Bradley S Peterson.

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Supplementary Figures S1, S2, Supplementary Table S1 and Supplementary Methods (PDF 7550 kb)

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Sowell, E., Kan, E., Yoshii, J. et al. Thinning of sensorimotor cortices in children with Tourette syndrome. Nat Neurosci 11, 637–639 (2008) doi:10.1038/nn.2121

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