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Amplified engagement of prefrontal cortex during control of voluntary action in Tourette syndrome

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Version 2 2023-06-12, 09:33
Version 1 2023-06-09, 21:54
journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-12, 09:33 authored by Charlotte RaeCharlotte Rae, Jim Parkinson, Sophie Betka, Cassandra D Gouldvan Praag, Samira BouyagoubSamira Bouyagoub, Liliana Polyanska, Dennis Larsson, Neil Harrison, Sarah Garfinkel, Hugo CritchleyHugo Critchley
Tourette syndrome is characterized by ‘unvoluntary’ tics, which are compulsive, yet often temporarily suppressible. The inferior frontal gyrus is implicated in motor control, including inhibition of pre-potent actions through influences on downstream subcortical and motor regions. Although tic suppression in Tourette syndrome also engages the inferior frontal gyrus, it is unclear whether such prefrontal control of action is also dysfunctional: Tic suppression studies do not permit comparison with control groups, and neuroimaging studies of motor inhibition can be confounded by the concurrent expression or suppression of tics. Here, patients with Tourette syndrome were directly compared to control participants when performing an intentional inhibition task during functional MRI. Tic expression was recorded throughout for removal from statistical models. Participants were instructed to make a button press in response to Go cues, withhold responses to NoGo cues, and decide whether to press or withhold to ‘Choose’ cues. Overall performance was similar between groups, for both intentional inhibition rates (% Choose-Go) and reactive NoGo inhibition commission errors. A subliminal face prime elicited no additional effects on intentional or reactive inhibition. Across participants, the task activated prefrontal and motor cortices and subcortical nuclei, including pre-supplementary motor area, inferior frontal gyrus, insula, caudate nucleus, thalamus and primary motor cortex. In Tourette syndrome, activity was elevated in the inferior frontal gyrus, insula and basal ganglia, most notably within the right inferior frontal gyrus during voluntary action and inhibition (Choose-Go and Choose-NoGo), and reactive inhibition (NoGo-correct). Anatomically, the locus of this inferior frontal gyrus hyperactivation during control of voluntary action matched that previously reported for tic suppression. In Tourette syndrome, activity within the caudate nucleus was also enhanced during both intentional (Choose-NoGo) and reactive (NoGo-correct) inhibition. Strikingly, despite the absence of overt motor behaviour, primary motor cortex activity increased in patients with Tourette syndrome but decreased in controls during both reactive and intentional inhibition. Additionally, severity of premonitory sensations scaled with functional connectivity of the pre-supplementary motor area to the caudate nucleus, globus pallidus and thalamus when choosing to respond (Choose-Go). Together, these results suggest that patients with Tourette syndrome use equivalent prefrontal mechanisms to suppress tics and withhold non-tic actions, but require greater inferior frontal gyrus engagement than controls to overcome motor drive from hyperactive downstream regions, notably primary motor cortex. Moreover, premonitory sensations may cue midline motor regions to generate tics through interactions with the basal ganglia.


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Brain Communications




Oxford University Press





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