New study identifies neural network responsible tic disorders


In a recent report published in the journal Brain, researchers identified the neural network which generates tic disorders. Scientists in the study were able to target the network through deep brain stimulation and alleviate symptoms of Tourette syndrome.

The study was conducted by researchers at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. They started by identifying 22 cases where patients had developed tics resulting from brain lesions, a rare cause of tic disorders. To find whether tic-inducing lesions would be connected to a common network in the human brain, scientists began the process of “lesion network mapping.” They compared the brains of patients with tic disorders caused by brain lesions with the brain scans of 1,000 healthy participants. Using previous studies from the Harvard Lesion Respiratory, they examined lesion network maps from 717 lesions that caused several neurological and psychiatric symptoms against their network maps from lesions which caused tic disorders.

The study results showed that tic-inducing lesions connected to a common network map of the brain which included the insular cortices, cingulate gyrus, striatum, globus pallidus internus, thalami, as well as the cerebellum. Researchers then performed targeted deep brain stimulation on 30 individuals with Tourette disorder. Using a pacemaker-like device, electrodes were placed in different areas of the participants’ brains and researchers observed whether they were targeting the tic-inducing neural network. Results showed that participants whose tic-inducing neural networks were the most stimulated, had the most symptom improvement.

Findings from this study show a common neural network involved in tic-disorders as well as indicates targeted neuromodulation as a potential treatment option. This study is relevant to the integrative healthcare community as it furthers the research on brain disorders and treatment options.