Functional MRI Can Treat Tourette’s Syndrome, Study Finds

According to a story from Medgadget, a team of researchers associated with Yale University have discovered that the symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome can be controlled through the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The study utilized a technology known as fMRI neurofeedback. This allows patients to observe the activity of their own brains and the patients were able to successfully control the frequency of their “tics” which is the defining symptom of Tourette’s.

About Tourette’s Syndrome

Tourette’s syndrome, often known simply as Tourette’s, is an unusual disorder of neurodevelopment that is defined by the appearance of tics, which are brief involuntary sounds or movements. Patients often present with multiple tics that can vary substantially in severity. Most cases are mild and barely noticeable by casual observers. The precise cause of Tourette’s syndrome remains unknown; the condition may be heritable in some cases, and it has been well established that both environmental and genetic factors play a role. Treatment for Tourette’s syndrome may include cognitive behavioral therapy, education, and, in severe cases, certain medications. There is no cure for the condition. Symptoms resolve in many patients as they near adulthood. Severe cases of Tourette’s, such as those in which tics include outbursts of profanity, have occasionally gained attention over social media. Mental health problems may develop in patients with severe Tourette’s. To learn more about Tourette’s syndrome, click here.

About The Study

The study included a total of 21 patients with the syndrome between the ages of 11 and 19 years. The fMRI neurofeedback tech is a relatively new tool. However, future research may reveal that it has the capability to have long lasting positive effects on patients with neuropsychiatric conditions. At least in the short term, neurofeedback appears useful. The neurofeedback machine allowed the patients to see which part of the brain was being activated when their tics appeared. With some training, the patients appeared to be capable of reducing the activity of the region of the brain causing the tics, causing less tic events to occur.

Check out the original study here in the scientific journal Biological Psychiatry.



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