Anomalous Putamen Volume in Children With Complex Motor Stereotypies

E. Mark Mahone, Deana Crocetti, Laura Tochen, Tina Kline, Stewart H. Mostofsky, Harvey S. Singer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Complex motor stereotypies in children are repetitive rhythmic movements that have a predictable pattern and location, seem purposeful, but serve no obvious function, tend to be prolonged, and stop with distraction, e.g., arm or hand flapping, waving. They occur in both “primary” (otherwise typically developing) and secondary conditions. These movements are best defined as habitual behaviors and therefore pathophysiologically hypothesized to reside in premotor to posterior putamen circuits. This study sought to clarify the underlying neurobiologic abnormality in children with primary complex motor stereotypies using structural neuroimaging, emphasizing brain regions hypothesized to underlie these atypical behaviors. Methods High-resolution anatomic magnetic resonance images, acquired at 3.0 T, were analyzed in children aged eight to twelve years (20 with primary complex motor stereotypies and 20 typically developing). Frontal lobe subregions and striatal structures were delineated for analysis. Results Significant reductions (P = 0.045) in the stereotypies group were identified in total putamen volume but not in caudate, nucleus accumbens, or frontal subregions. There were no group differences in total cerebral volume. Conclusions Findings of a smaller putamen provide preliminary evidence suggesting the potential involvement of the habitual pathway as the underlying anatomic site in primary complex motor stereotypies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-63
Number of pages5
JournalPediatric Neurology
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • childhood
  • goal-directed behaviors
  • habitual behaviors
  • motor stereotypies
  • movement disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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