Update: Studies of prepulse inhibition of startle, with particular relevance to the pathophysiology or treatment of Tourette Syndrome

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Abstract

Prepulse inhibition of the startle reflex (PPI) is an operational measure of sensorimotor gating, in which the motor response to an abrupt, intense stimulus is inhibited by a weak lead stimulus. PPI is reduced in several brain disorders, including Tourette Syndrome (TS); it is regulated by forebrain circuitry, including portions of the basal ganglia implicated in the pathophysiology of TS, and is also heritable and under strong genetic control. PPI has been the focus of numerous translational models, because it is expressed by most mammalian species, with remarkable conservation of response characteristics and underlying neural circuitry between rodents and primates. Several of these models have recently explored causative factors in TS – from genes to specific basal ganglia perturbations – as well as potential TS therapeutics, including novel pharmacological and neurosurgical interventions. With the focus on Comprehensive Behavioral Interventions for Tics (CBIT) in the evolving treatment model for TS, future studies might apply PPI as a predictive measure for CBIT response, or for identifying medications that might augment CBIT efficacy. In the end, a measure based on a simple pontine-based reflex will have limitations in its ability to explicate any complex behavioral phenotype.

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