Klinik und Poliklinik fur Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie und Psychotherapie, Georg-August-Universitat Gottingen.
Motor system excitability can be investigated in vivo by means of single and paired pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Whereas the cortical silent period reflects the general degree of inhibitory mechanisms mainly within the sensorimotor loop, intracortical excitability measures the focused degree of inhibitory and facilitatory mechanisms within the motor cortex. In child and adolescent psychiatric disorders with uncontrollable motor behavior such as tics in tic disorder or motoric hyperactivity in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), different dysfunctional patterns of motor system excitability could be demonstrated compared to age-matched healthy controls: (1) In tic disorder, a shortened cortical silent period was observed, providing evidence of deficient inhibitory mechanisms within the sensorimotor loop, probably primarily at the level of the basal ganglia. (2) In ADHD, a decreased intracortical inhibition was found, probably reflecting deficient inhibitory mechanisms within the motor cortex (but enhancement of intracortical inhibition after oral intake of 10 mg methylphenidate). In order to investigate neurophysiological aspects of comorbidity, (3) motor system excitability was also measured in children with combined ADHD and tic disorder. The findings of a reduced intracortical inhibition as well as a shortened cortical silent period in these comorbid children provide evidence of additive effects at the level of motor system excitability. These decreased inhibitory mechanisms within the entire sensorimotor loop and especially the motor cortex could be essential neurobiological substrates of the deficient inhibitory motor control and regulation, respectively, in tic disorder and ADHD.