The relation between attention and tic generation in tourette syndrome

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Abstract

Objective: Many neuropsychiatric disorders involve abnormal attentional processing. Systematic investigations of how attention may affect tic frequency in Tourette syndrome are lacking. Method: Patients performed rhythmic finger movements, approximately once every 2 s. Each movement triggered a unique visual color stimulus. Patients were asked to monitor and remember their finger actions, the external colors caused by their actions, or their tics. Sixteen adult Tourette syndrome patients performed each task twice: once while inhibiting tics, and once without inhibiting tics. Results: During the "freely tic" condition, patients had significantly fewer tics when attending to finger movements, or to the ensuing colors, compared with when attending to their tics. Attention to fingers produced the fewest tics overall. During tic suppression, tic frequency was reduced to an equal level in all conditions. Conclusions: Focusing attention away from tics significantly reduces tic frequency. This attentional process may operate by regulating motor noise.

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Misirlisoy, E., Brandt, V., Ganos, C., Tübing, J., Münchau, A., & Haggard, P. (2015). The relation between attention and tic generation in tourette syndrome. Neuropsychology, 29(4), 658–665. https://doi.org/10.1037/neu0000161

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