The role of abnormal neural oscillations in the pathophysiology of co-occurring Tourette syndrome and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2007 Jun:16 Suppl 1:51-9. doi: 10.1007/s00787-007-1007-3.


Objective: To examine the role of aberrant neural oscillatory activity in the pathophysiology of co-occurring Tourette Syndrome (TS) and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Method: Neural oscillations refer to periodic variations in the recording of neural activity. The temporal synchronization of oscillations represents a mechanism of neural communication implicated in normal brain functioning as well as psychopathology. We reviewed physiological, imaging, and neuropsychological evidence that tics and symptoms of ADHD may result from abnormal oscillatory activity in the brain.

Results: Structural and functional abnormalities in the cortical-striatal-thalamo-cortical circuits may result in the disruption of oscillatory activity within the basal ganglia of individuals with TS and lead to transient hyperpolarization of selected thalamocortical regions. Extended to TS plus ADHD this or similar mechanisms, in turn, would lead to the dysrhythmia of particular vulnerable cortical regions and give rise to various deficits in motor control (TS + ADHD) as well as impulsivity and attention (ADHD). Compensatory systems within the prefrontal cortex could be activated and trained to modulate the misguided striatal and thalamocortical oscillations.

Conclusions: Although it is highly likely that abnormal neural oscillations have a prominent role in co-occurrence of TS + ADHD, its final relevance in this case deserves further differentiated research (i.e. oscillatory networks disentangled from other neuropsychiatric disorders).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Periodicity
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Tourette Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Tourette Syndrome / physiopathology*