Mid-Atlantic Consortium Newsletter Summer 2013

Tourette Syndrome and Brain Development

This study, conducted at the Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI) in Baltimore and directed by Stewart Mostofsky, M.D., focuses on improving our understanding of how brain development and function are affected by Tourette syndrome.

Tourette syndrome, also called Gilles de la Tourette syndrome or simply Tourette’s, begins in childhood and is characterized by motor tics and at least one vocal tic. The intensity of these tics usually varies over time and can be suppressed temporarily with medications.

Tourette’s is now estimated to affect from half of one percent to 3.8 percent of children between the ages of five and 18. This wide range in estimated frequency is due to the fact that most cases are mild, and severity tends to decrease as children pass through adolescence. The stereotype of Tourette’s — involving bizarre tics and intense verbal outbursts — is quite rare. Tourette’s does not adversely affect intelligence or life expectancy.

To accomplish the study’s goals, researchers will conduct detailed assessments of participants’ memory, attention and control of movements, and correlate these abilities with brain development using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning. Two groups of children are being studied: one with and the other without Tourette’s. All participating children must be between the ages of nine and 14. Investigators anticipate that results of the study may lead to discovery of some of the critical links between brain and behavioral development, and, may contribute to the discovery of prevention strategies and better treatments for Tourette’s.

For more information, contact Rebecca Buhlman by phone at 443-923-9258 or by email at buhlman@kennedykrieger.org.