Journal of Neuropsychology

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Volume 10 Issue 1 (March 2016), Pages 1-162

Premonitory urges are associated with decreased grey matter thickness within the insula and sensorimotor cortex in young people with Tourette syndrome (pages 143-153)

Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder characterized by vocal and motor tics and is associated with cortical–striatal–thalamic–cortical circuit (CSTC) dysfunction and hyperexcitability of cortical limbic and motor regions, which are thought to lead to the occurrence of tics. Importantly, individuals with TS often report that their tics are preceded by ‘premonitory sensory phenomena’ (PSP) that are described as uncomfortable cognitive or bodily sensations that precede the execution of a tic, and are experienced as a strong urge for motor discharge. While the precise role played by PSP in the occurrence of tics is controversial, PSP are nonetheless of considerable theoretical and clinical importance in TS, not least because they form the core component in many of the behavioural therapies that are currently used in the treatment of tic disorders. In this study, we investigated the brain structure correlates of PSP. Specifically, we conducted a whole‐brain analysis of cortical (grey matter) thickness in 29 children and young adults with TS and investigated the association between grey matter thickness and PSP. We demonstrate for the first time that PSP are inversely associated with grey matter thickness measurements within the insula and sensorimotor cortex. We also demonstrate that grey matter thickness is significantly reduced in these areas in individuals with TS relative to a closely age‐ and gender‐matched group of typically developing individuals and that PSP ratings are significantly correlated with tic severity.

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