Basal ganglia dysfunction in Tourette's syndrome: a new hypothesis

Pediatr Neurol. 2001 Sep;25(3):190-8. doi: 10.1016/s0887-8994(01)00262-4.


Tourette's syndrome is a neuropsychiatric syndrome with onset in childhood that is characterized by chronic multiple tics. The cause of Tourette's syndrome is unknown, but the pathophysiology most likely involves basal ganglia and frontocortical circuits. A useful scheme of basal ganglia dysfunction should be able to account for the features that make Tourette's syndrome unique, in addition to the features that Tourette's syndrome shares with other disorders. Recent advances in knowledge of basal ganglia functional anatomy and physiology make it possible to hypothesize how specific neural mechanisms relate to specific clinical manifestations of Tourette's syndrome. A model of selection and suppression of competing behaviors by the basal ganglia is presented. The functional anatomy of basal ganglia circuits and new information on dopamine modulation of those circuits provide the basis for hypotheses of basal ganglia dysfunction in Tourette's syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Basal Ganglia / metabolism
  • Basal Ganglia / physiopathology*
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology
  • Thalamus / physiopathology
  • Tics / physiopathology
  • Tourette Syndrome / etiology
  • Tourette Syndrome / metabolism
  • Tourette Syndrome / physiopathology*


  • Dopamine