Neurofeedback: A potential treatment option for Tourette Syndrome
Dr Shelley Hyman
Neurofeedback is increasingly used in various neuropsychiatric disorders. It aims to modify mental processes (in particular cognition) and thereby positively impact on disorder-specific symptoms.
A review by Farkas and colleagues (2015) proposes that neurofeedback can be potentially used in the treatment of Gilles-de-la Tourette Syndrome (GTS).
This is important as GTS is characterised by multiple rapid and non-rhythmic motor and vocal productions, which can only be actively controlled using significant cognitive efforts. However, research examining how neurofeedback can be effectively applied in the treatment of GTS is scarce.
Considerable research has shown the efficacy of neurofeedback in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD is characterised by neuroanatomical and neurophysiological abnormalities, which affect executive control functions, are related to clinical symptoms, and show great overlap with GTS. Thus, neurofeedback may be a promising treatment option for GTS.
Studies have shown that deficits in cognitive control processes are most evident when GTS is co-morbid with ADHD. Researchers in the field have mixed views about whether there are indeed significant deficits in cognitive control in GTS.
Since neurofeedback targets neural activity related to cognitive control functions, it may be the case that neurofeedback treatment in GTS is most effective when individuals present with ADHD as well. ADHD is co-morbid with GTS in around 50% of patients however.
Although neurofeedback may be a valuable therapeutic option when treating GTS, this has to be explored in future studies with both children and adolescents. In the future, neurofeedback training can potentially be used in conjunction with existing treatment options for GTS.
Sashika de Silva
- Farkas, A., Bluschke, A., Roessner, V., & Beste, C. (2015). Neurofeedback and its possible relevance for the treatment of Tourette syndrome. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 51, 87-99.