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Nat Rev Neurol. 2011 Nov 8;7(12):667-76. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2011.167.

Advances in understanding and treatment of Tourette syndrome.

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Medical and Scientific Programs, National Tourette Syndrome Association, 42-40 Bell Boulevard, Suite 205, Bayside, NY 11361, USA.


Tourette syndrome is a hereditary, childhood-onset neurodevelopmental disorder that was first clearly described in France in 1885. This disorder is characterized by sudden, rapid, recurrent, nonrhythmic movements (motor tics) or sounds (vocal or phonic tics), often preceded by premonitory sensations or urges. Some individuals also have psychiatric comorbidities, notably attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Tourette syndrome occurs worldwide, in all races and ethnicities, in both sexes and in children as well as in adults. Estimates of its prevalence in children vary, with rates of up to 1% being reported, but rates of 0.3-0.8% are thought to accurately reflect the occurrence of the disorder. Research has led to progress in many aspects of Tourette syndrome, although many questions and unmet needs remain. For example, except for rare cases, the genetic basis remains elusive. The anatomical and neuronal changes in the brain that underlie Tourette syndrome are also unclear, although the evidence increasingly implicates alterations in basal ganglia function. Treatment is often unnecessary for individuals with mild tics, but for those with moderate to severe forms of the syndrome, some drugs are available, albeit frequently ineffective. Behavioral and surgical therapies, in particular deep brain stimulation, are currently undergoing development and show promising results. This Review examines the history of Tourette syndrome and describes its clinical presentation. The article also provides an overview of the epidemiology and pathophysiology of this disorder. Current treatment strategies and potential future therapies are also discussed.

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