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Co-Occurrence of Tic Disorders and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder—Does It Reflect a Common Neurobiological Background?

ORCID
0000-0002-2367-9197
Affiliation
Clinic for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Göttingen, 37075 Göttingen, Germany
Rothenberger, Aribert;
ORCID
0000-0002-8156-489X
Affiliation
Neurocare Group, 80331 Munich, Germany
Heinrich, Hartmut

Background: The co-existence of tic disorders and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (TD + ADHD) has proven to be highly important in daily clinical practice. The factor ADHD is not only associated with further comorbidities, but also has a long-term negative psychosocial effect, while the factor TD is usually less disturbing for the major part of the patients. It remains unclear how far this is related to a different neurobiological background of the associated disorders or whether TD + ADHD reflects a common one. Objective: This review provides an update on the neurobiological background of TD + ADHD in order to better understand and treat this clinical problem, while clarifying whether an additive model of TD + ADHD holds true and should be used as a basis for further clinical recommendations. Method: A comprehensive research of the literature was conducted and analyzed, including existing clinical guidelines for both TD and ADHD. Besides genetical and environmental risk factors, brain structure and functions, neurophysiological processes and neurotransmitter systems were reviewed. Results: Only a limited number of empirical studies on the neurobiological background of TD and ADHD have taken the peculiarity of co-existing TD + ADHD into consideration, and even less studies have used a 2 × 2 factorial design in order to disentangle the impact/effects of the factors of TD versus those of ADHD. Nevertheless, the assumption that TD + ADHD can best be seen as an additive model at all levels of investigation was strengthened, although some overlap of more general, disorder non-specific aspects seem to exist. Conclusion: Beyond stress-related transdiagnostic aspects, separate specific disturbances in certain neuronal circuits may lead to disorder-related symptoms inducing TD + ADHD in an additive way. Hence, within a classificatory categorical framework, the dimensional aspects of multilevel diagnostic-profiling seem to be a helpful precondition for personalized decisions on counselling and disorder-specific treatment in TD + ADHD.

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