A New Computational Biology Shows the Role of the Brain in Tourette Tics

A computer-based simulation has shown that Tourette Tics may arise from interactions between many brain parts, rather than one malfunctioning part, according to a study that was published in PLOS Computational Biology.

The symptoms of Tourette syndrome include involuntary motor tics, such as sniffing, clapping, or eye blinking. Traditionally, those tics were related to dysfunction of a brain part referred to as the basal ganglia. However, recent studies of human, monkey and rat brains show that thalamus, cortex, and cerebellum may be involved, too.

Led by Daniele Caligiore of the National Research Council, Italy, researchers have developed a computer-based brain simulation that triggers motor tics in Tourette syndrome. The model imitates neutral activity that was related to tics in the monkey study, which suggested that tics also involve signalling between basal ganglia, cerebellum, and cortex.

The researchers tweaked the model to reproduce the results of the study of the monkey brain. Consequently, they were able to understand how the brain produces tics. The model shows that abnormal activity of dopamine in the basal ganglia and activity in the thalamo-cortical system work together to generate a tic. The model also suggests that the cerebellum- basal ganglia link discovered in the study of monkey may enable the cerebellum to influence the production of tic.





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