Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Lateral frontal cortex volume reduction in Tourette syndrome revealed by VBM

Matthias Wittfoth12*, Sarah Bornmann3, Thomas Peschel23, Julian Grosskreutz4, Alexander Glahn3, Nadine Buddensiek3, Hartmut Becker5, Reinhard Dengler1 and Kirsten R Müller-Vahl23

Author affiliations

1 Department of Neurology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany

2 NeuroImaging and Clinical Applications (NICA), Hannover, Germany

3 Clinic of Psychiatry, Socialpsychiatry and Psychotherapy, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany

4 Department of Neurology, University of Jena, Jena, Germany

5 Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2012, 13:17  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-13-17

Published: 14 February 2012



Structural changes have been found predominantly in the frontal cortex and in the striatum in children and adolescents with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS). The influence of comorbid symptomatology is unclear. Here we sought to address the question of gray matter abnormalities in GTS patients with co-morbid obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) in twenty-nine adult actually unmedicated GTS patients and twenty-five healthy control subjects.


In GTS we detected a cluster of decreased gray matter volume in the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), but no regions demonstrating volume increases. By comparing subgroups of GTS with comorbid ADHD to the subgroup with comorbid OCD, we found a left-sided amygdalar volume increase.


From our results it is suggested that the left IFG may constitute a common underlying structural correlate of GTS with co-morbid OCD/ADHD. A volume reduction in this brain region that has been previously identified as a key region in OCD and was associated with the active inhibition of attentional processes may reflect the failure to control behavior. Amygdala volume increase is discussed on the background of a linkage of this structure with ADHD symptomatology. Correlations with clinical data revealed gray matter volume changes in specific brain areas that have been described in these conditions each.

Gilles de la Tourette syndrome; Voxel-based morphometry; Inferior frontal gyrus; Amygdala; Obsessive-compulsive disorder; Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder