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Therapy 'may help with Tourette's'

Children with Tourette's syndrome could benefit from behavioural therapy, according to research.

Scientists have found that the brains of children with the problem develop in a unique way, and therapy of this type could help to reduce the symptoms.

The study revealed that in many cases the brain reorganises its structure during teenage years to compensate for the condition, but this process could be speeded up with a course of behavioural therapy.

If youngsters are given help earlier it could aid them in controlling their symptoms more quickly and effectively.

Around one school child in every 100 is affected by the inherited condition, which is characterised by involuntary and uncontrollable sounds and movements, or tics.

This could provide an alternative treatment method to current drug-based therapies, which can end up heralding unwelcome side-effects, such as weight gain and depression.

Study leader, Professor Stephen Jackson, from the School of Psychology at the University of Nottingham said: "We had previously shown, somewhat paradoxically, that children with Tourette's syndrome have greater control over their motor behaviour than typically developing children of a similar age, and we had speculated that this was due to compensatory changes in the brain that helped these children control their tics.

"This new study provides compelling evidence that this enhanced control of motor output is accompanied by structural and functional alterations within the brain. This finding suggests that non-pharmacological, 'brain-training', approaches may prove to be an effective treatment for Tourette's syndrome."

The findings, from a brain imaging study, have been reported in the journal Current Biology.

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Current Biology