Health Discoveries in General Health News

Tourette symptoms improve after behavioral therapy

April 27, 2011

A program of relaxation techniques, biofeedback and other behavioral therapy helped reduce tics and other uncontrolled movements of adults with Tourette syndrome, according to the International Journal of Cognitive Therapy.

A small study at the University of Montreal found that several months of such therapy improved the condition of Tourette patients by 57 percent, based on electronically measured brain activity. In addition, they experienced significant fine motor skills improvement.

"Even during adulthood the brain is sufficiently plastic to reorganize its network concomitantly with behavioral change," said Marc Lavoie, a university researcher. "The research showed that psychotherapy can modify cerebral activation."

Genetically-based Tourette syndrome often has symptoms such as anxiety, depression, physical tics, verbal outbursts and repetitive self-inflicted injuries such as face scratching.

The neuroscience study used an electroencephalogram to test brain activity while the patients performed some tasks and suggests that the condition may be caused by dysfunction in the basal ganglia, or brain structures involved with physical coordination.

Within the North Shore-LIJ Health System, the Center for Neurosciences has a leading brain imaging program recognized for its techniques in characterizing and quantifying neural circuits in neurodegenerative disorders.

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