Tourette Syndrome Studies

Tactile Adaptation in Tourette Syndrome: Probing GABA-Mediated Neuroplasticity

Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a common developmental disorder characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. Long seen as involving only the motor system, research has begun to highlight the involvement of sensory system dysfunction in TS as well. This notion is supported by both research and anecdotal evidence; people with TS often report a sensory urge (e.g., itchy throat) that contributes to the need to complete the tic (e.g., throat clearing), which provides temporary relief. It is thought that the persistent nature of these sensory urges may represent the brain’s difficulty with adapting to tactile (touch) sensory experiences. More>

Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Studies: 

Movement-Based Tai Chi Training for Children with ADHD

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most common behavioral diagnosis in childhood.  It can contribute to difficulties in school and can lead to mental illness. Standard treatments with stimulant medications primarily target the symptoms themselves and do not address the core features. There are tremendous potential benefits of movement-based mindfulness training, such as Tai Chi, for remediating the core features of ADHD. Addressing this, we are investigating the impact of an 8-week Tai Chi training program for children with ADHD.  More >

Anomalous Motor Physiology in ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most common behavioral diagnosis in childhood. It incurs high medical costs and can contribute to poor academic achievement, adult mental illness, substance abuse, and criminal behavior. Standard treatments, such as stimulant medications, primarily target symptoms and long-term follow-up studies of children treated for ADHD reveal that their outcomes remain significantly worse as compared to typically developing peers. A critical obstacle to improving long term ADHD treatment outcomes is the lack of quantitative markers which correlate with symptoms and reveal neurobiological mechanisms in ways that could point toward more accurate prognosis and more effective future treatments. More>

Adolescent Changes in Brain and Behavior in Boys and Girls with ADHD

Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are at risk of exhibiting poor academic achievement, social difficulties, substance abuse and criminal behavior. Many of these difficulties are showcased during adolescent; therefore, it is crucial to understand the development of ADHD in both boys and girls. Furthermore, there is an increasing recognition that gender may be a factor in the development of ADHD.  More>

Neurology of Deficient Response Control in ADHD

ADHD is the most common neuropsychiatric disorder in childhood, affecting an estimated 3-8% of children. The core behavioral symptoms of this disorder (inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity) cause impairment in family and social relationships and in school performance. The impact of ADHD is amplified further through its comorbidity with a number of psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders, including learning disabilities and Tourette syndrome. Although the causes of ADHD are unknown, recent research clearly identifies ADHD as a neurobiological disorder. Because ADHD presents in a variety of ways, it is unlikely to have a single cause. Despite the possibility of multiple origins, the cardinal symptoms of ADHD may emanate from closely related disturbances in cerebral function. Once these dysfunctions are understood, they can serve as biomarkers that help to guide diagnosis and can be used as “intermediate” indicators in studies of genetic and environmental causes and mechanisms of compensation, treatment, and recovery.  More>

Reading Intervention Research Studies:

Reading disability (RD; or developmental dyslexia) is characterized by slow and inaccurate reading that continues into adulthood despite remedial intervention and exposure to written materials. The neurological reasons for RD are yet to be discovered although several brain abnormalities were suggested in previous studies. Individuals with RD can compensate for their reading difficulties to some degree, especially if the intervention is provided early in age.  More >

Traumatic Brain Injury Studies:

Neural Correlates of Response Control in Children with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Children with traumatic brain injury often have difficulty with regulating their responses to the environment.  For example, many children will have slowed response times as well as difficulty inhibiting unwanted responses or behaviors.  We have two studies evaluating response control in children with mild complicated to severe TBI in association with parent report on the child’s “real-world” function and imaging studies. More >

Somatosensory Information Processing in Children with Concussion

Currently the “gold standard” for evaluating recovery from concussion is to ensure that a child is symptom-free and performing at his/her typical level of pre-injury function prior to return to activities which put the child at risk for another injury to the head.  Research suggests, however, that the brain may be functioning differently to support return to typical function after a concussion. More >

Body Fluid Markers of Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

The ability to identify early after a TBI what kind of assistance a child will need in the months after injury would be very helpful for planning for the child’s care and identifying which children may most benefit from early treatments to optimize outcome after injury.  Research suggests that measuring the amounts of certain proteins in the blood, urine, and/or cerebrospinal fluid after a TBI may be useful for this purpose. More >

Autism Studies:

Motor Skill Learning in Autism 

Autism is a disorder that presents in early childhood and is characterized by deviance and delays in development of reciprocal social interaction, communication, and the child’s range of interests and activities. Investigations of brain-behavior mechanisms contributing to autism have thus far principally relied on approaches adapted from adult lesion-based models in which existing cognitive and behavioral domains (e.g., attention, perception, executive function) are examined. Despite the clear developmental nature of autism, relatively few studies have focused on detailed examination of neural mechanisms central to learning. Such an approach would be critical to understanding the developmental basis of autism and might also lead to improvements in therapeutic intervention. More>

Dysfunction of Sensory Inhibition in Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a group of developmental disorder, which affects approximately 1% of children. A prominent associated symptom of ASD is abnormal sensory behaviors. These behaviors limit the child’s and family’s functioning; however, the underlying causes of these behaviors have not yet been explored. This study investigates the neurobehavioral basis of abnormal sensory behavior in ASD. We will examine the relationship between basic sensory perception, attention, and language, neurotransmitter functioning and abnormal sensory behaviors. We aim to clarify and improve the understanding of these relationships in order to inform treatment and intervention targets and goals. More>