The functional anatomy of Gilles de la Tourette syndrome

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Abstract

Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS) holds a prime position as a disorder transgressing the brittle boundaries of neurology and psychiatry with an entangling web of motor and behavioral problems. With tics as the disorder's hallmark and myriads of related signs such as echo-, pali- and coprophenomena, paralleled by a broad neuropsychiatric spectrum of comorbidities encompassing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive–compulsive disorder and self-injurious behavior and depression, GTS pathophysiology remains enigmatic. In this review, in the light of GTS phenomenology, we will focus on current theories of tic-emergence related to aberrant activity in the basal ganglia and abnormal basal ganglia–cortex interplay through cortico-striato-thalamocortical loops from an anatomical, neurophysiological and functional-neuroimaging perspective. We will attempt a holistic view to the countless major and minor drawbacks of the GTS brain and comment on future directions of neuroscientific research to elucidate this common and complex neuropsychiatric syndrome, which merits scientific understanding and social acceptance.

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