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Curr Biol. 2006 Mar 21;16(6):570-3.

Enhanced cognitive control in young people with Tourette's syndrome.

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Division of Psychiatry, Queen's Medical Centre, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, United Kingdom.


Tourette's syndrome (TS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by the presence of chronic vocal and motor tics. Tics are sudden, highly stereotyped, movements that can be simple or complex in appearance. Since patients with TS have difficulties preventing unwanted movements, one might expect that their ability to voluntarily control goal-directed movements would be similarly poor. Indeed, it has been suggested that TS sufferers are impaired at inhibiting reflexively triggered movements and in rapidly selecting or switching between different motor sets. This idea is consistent with current views on the neurological basis of TS that posit a dysfunction of the neural circuits linking the frontal lobes and the striatum. These circuits are known to be involved in the voluntary control of action. By using an oculomotor switching task, we show for the first time that young people with TS exhibit paradoxically greater levels of cognitive control over their movements than their age-matched controls. This finding is consistent with an increased need to monitor and control movements and may indicate a subcortical locus for the triggering of tics. It also suggests that the constant need to suppress tics could have resulted in an enhancement of the executive processes involved in inhibitory control.

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