[Audio from a video of Tourette sufferer Jaylen Arnold.]
Tourette syndrome. You might think that someone who exhibits the physical and verbal tics of Tourette has less control of hismind than do non-Tourette people.
Well, here’s a surprise. Studies show that children with Tourette actually have greater cognitive control than do their peers. The researchers think that the enhanced control is the effect of spending so much time and energy attempting to subdue Tourette-related behaviors. The work is in the journal Current Biology.
The scientists studied brain scans of children with Tourette while they performed tasks requiring focus and quick reaction time. Brain scans from non-Tourette kids served as controls. The researchers saw significantly increased activity within the corpus collosum, the area that connects the left and right brain hemispheres, in those with Tourette.
Interestingly, the kids who were best at controlling their tics showed another increased activity: they had busier connections between the prefrontal cortex, involved in complex tasks, and brain areas that control physical movement. Again, probably to subdue the tics.
This observation offers hope that people with Tourette could undergo training to strengthen such connections, in order to control Tourette behavior. The approach might also work with other conditions, such as attention deficit and obsessive compulsive disorder.