Tourette's syndrome brain changes found

May 11, 2009 at 7:00 PM
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HANOVER, Germany, May 11 (UPI) -- German medical scientists say they used a new imaging technology to discover changes in Tourette's syndrome patients' brain structure.

The researchers, led by Dr. Kirsten Muller-Vahl of the Hanover Medical School, said Magnetization Transfer Imaging had never been used to study Tourette's patients. The scientists said they also found a correlation between the extent of some of the structural changes they identified and symptom severity.

The researchers said they identified alterations in the frontal lobe of the Tourette's patients that might be responsible for the pathology of the syndrome.

"Our in vivo findings, using two sensitive and unbiased techniques, support the hypothesis that alterations in frontostriatal circuitries underlie Tourette's pathology," said Muller-Vahl.

MTI, the scientists said, is a refinement of the nuclear magnetic resonance technique, allowing detection of changes invisible to conventional MRI scanners.

The imaging technology discovered alterations, in comparison to controls, in brain areas involved in the selection, programming, initiation and control of movement.

"We suggest that Tourette's is primarily caused by a dysfunction in prefrontal cortex areas, rather than the basal ganglia, as has been previously thought," the scientists said.

The study appears in the journal BMC Neuroscience.

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