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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 27 (2013), Issue 1, Pages 57-64

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Studies of Sensorimotor Networks in Tourette Syndrome

Michael Orth1 and Alexander Münchau2

1Department of Neurology, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany
2Department of Neurology, University Medical Center Hamburg Eppendorf, Martinistr, Hamburg, Germany

Received 23 November 2012; Accepted 23 November 2012

Copyright © 2013 Hindawi Publishing Corporation and the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS) is a sensorimotor disorder where the sensitivity to external and internal stimuli might be increased and unwanted responses to such stimuli cannot be sufficiently suppressed.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) studies indicate that, at rest, axonal excitability of cortico-spinal neurons and intra-cortical inter-neurons was consistently normal in GTS. However, synaptic excitability in cortico-spinal neurons and the SICI circuit may be lower than normal. In addition, an electrophysiological marker of sensory motor integration, SAI, was reduced in the baseline state consistent with reduced efficiency of synaptic inhibition. Given the possible influence of sensory inputs in triggering the release of tics reduced SAI may be a direct physiological reflection of increased access of sensory input to motor output in GTS. Experiments examining control of voluntary movements revealed that in GTS motor cortex excitability increases less than in controls when preparing a movement even though intra-cortical inhibition (i.e. SICI) normalises.

In GTS the gain of many motor circuits may be reduced and hence less sensitive to small changes in input from other areas. These cortical changes may constitute an adaptive response to abnormal basal ganglia-motor cortex inputs.