Task control signals in pediatric Tourette syndrome show evidence of immature and anomalous functional activity

Jessica A. Church, Kristin K. Wenger, Nico U.F. Dosenbach, Francis M. Miezin, Steven E. Petersen, Bradley L. Schlaggar

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Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a pediatric movement disorder that may affect control signaling in the brain. Previous work has proposed a dual-networks architecture of control processing involving a task-maintenance network and an adaptive control network (Dosenbach et al., 2008). A prior resting-state functional connectivity MRI (rs-fcMRI) analysis in TS has revealed functional immaturity in both putative control networks, with "anomalous" correlations (i.e., correlations outside the typical developmental range) limited to the adaptive control network (Church et al., 2009). The present study used functional MRI (fMRI) to study brain activity related to adaptive control (by studying start-cues signals), and to task-maintenance (by studying signals sustained across a task set). Two hypotheses from the previous rs-fcMRI results were tested. First, adaptive control (i.e., start-cue) activity will be altered in TS, including activity inconsistent with typical development ("anomalous"). Second, group differences found in task-maintenance (i.e., sustained) activity will be consistent with functional immaturity in TS. We examined regions found through a direct comparison of adolescents with and without TS, as well as regions derived from a previous investigation that showed differences between unaffected children and adults. The TS group showed decreased start-cue signal magnitude in regions where start-cue activity is unchanged over typical development, consistent with anomalous adaptive control. The TS group also had higher magnitude sustained signals in frontal cortex regions that overlapped with regions showing differences over typical development, consistent with immature task-maintenance in TS. The results demonstrate task-related fMRI signal differences anticipated by the atypical functional connectivity found previously in adolescents with TS, strengthening the evidence for functional immaturity and anomalous signaling in control networks in adolescents with TS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number38
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberNOV
StatePublished - Nov 9 2009


  • Adolescence
  • Control
  • Development
  • Tourette syndrome
  • fMRI


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