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Alterations in the microstructure of white matter in children and adolescents with Tourette syndrome measured using tract-based spatial statistics and probabilistic tractography

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Hilmar SigurdssonORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by repetitive and intermittent motor and vocal tics. TS is thought to reflect fronto-striatal dysfunction and the aetiology of the disorder has been linked to widespread alterations in the functional and structural integrity of the brain. The aim of this study was to assess white matter (WM) abnormalities in a large sample of young patients with TS in comparison to a sample of matched typically developing control individuals (CS) using diffusion MRI. The study included 35 patients with TS (3 females; mean age: 14.0 ± 3.3) and 35 CS (3 females; mean age: 13.9 ± 3.3). Diffusion MRI data was analysed using tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) and probabilistic tractography. Patients with TS demonstrated both marked and widespread decreases in axial diffusivity (AD) together with altered WM connectivity. Moreover, we showed that tic severity and the frequency of premonitory urges (PU) were associated with increased connectivity between primary motor cortex (M1) and the caudate nuclei, and increased information transfer between M1 and the insula, respectively. This is to our knowledge the first study to employ both TBSS and probabilistic tractography in a sample of young patients with TS. Our results contribute to the limited existing literature demonstrating altered connectivity in TS and confirm previous results suggesting in particular, that altered insular function contributes to increased frequency of PU.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sigurdsson HP, Pépés SE, Jackson GM, Draper A, Morgan PS, Jackson SR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cortex

Year: 2018

Volume: 104

Pages: 75-89

Print publication date: 01/07/2018

Online publication date: 12/04/2018

Acceptance date: 04/04/2018

Date deposited: 08/04/2019

ISSN (print): 0010-9452

ISSN (electronic): 1973-8102

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2018.04.004


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