Associative plasticity in supplementary motor area - motor cortex pathways in Tourette syndrome

Jennifer Tübing, Bettina Gigla, Valerie Cathérine Brandt, Julius Verrel, Anne Weissbach, Christian Beste, Alexander Münchau, Tobias Bäumer*

*Corresponding author for this work


The important role of the supplementary motor area (SMA) in the generation of tics and urges in Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS) is underscored by an increased SMA-motor cortex (M1) connectivity. However, whether plasticity is also altered in SMA-M1 pathways is unclear. We explored whether SMA-M1 plasticity is altered in patients with Tourette syndrome. 15 patients with GTS (mean age of 33.4 years, SD = 9.9) and 19 age and sex matched healthy controls were investigated with a paired association stimulation (PAS) protocol using three transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) coils stimulating both M1 and the SMA. Standard clinical measures for GTS symptoms were collected. There was a significant PAS effect showing that MEP amplitudes measured in blocks during and after PAS were significantly higher compared to those in the first block. However, the degree of PAS was not differentially modulated between patients and controls as shown by a Bayesian data analysis. PAS effects in GTS correlated positively with the YGTSS motor tic severity. Plasticity previously reported to be altered in sensorimotor pathways in GTS is normal in SMA-M1 projections suggesting that the dysfunction of the SMA in GTS is not primarily related to altered plasticity in SMA-M1 connections.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11984
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01.12.2018

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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