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Examining the neural antecedents of tics in Tourette syndrome using electroencephalography

Morera Maiquez, Barbara; Jackson, Georgina M.; Jackson, Stephen R.


Barbara Morera Maiquez

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Professor of Cognitive Neuropsychology

Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience


Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by the occurrence of motor and vocal tics. TS is associated with cortical-striatal-thalamic-cortical circuit dysfunction and hyper-excitability of cortical limbic and motor regions that lead to the occurrence of tics. Importantly, individuals with TS often report that their tics are preceded by premonitory sensory/urge phenomena (PU) that are described as uncomfortable bodily sensations that precede the execution of a tic and are experienced as an urge for motor discharge. While tics are most often referred to as involuntary movements, it has been argued that tics should be viewed as voluntary movements that are executed in response to the presence of PU. To investigate this issue further, we conducted a study using electroencephalography (EEG). We recorded movement-related EEG (mu and beta band oscillations) during (a) the immediate period leading up to the execution of voluntary movements by a group of individuals with TS and a group of matched healthy control participants, and (b) the immediate period leading up to the execution of a tic in a group of individuals with TS. We demonstrate that movement-related mu and beta oscillations are not reliably observed prior to tics in individuals with TS. We interpret this effect as reflecting the greater involvement of a network of brain areas, including the insular and cingulate cortices, the basal ganglia and the cerebellum, in the generation of tics in TS. We also show that beta-band desynchronization does occur when individuals with TS initiate voluntary movements, but, in contrast to healthy controls, desynchronization of mu-band oscillations is not observed during the execution of voluntary movements for individuals with TS. We interpret this finding as reflecting a dysfunction of physiological inhibition in TS, thereby contributing to an impaired ability to suppress neuronal populations that may compete with movement preparation processes.


Morera Maiquez, B., Jackson, G. M., & Jackson, S. R. (2022). Examining the neural antecedents of tics in Tourette syndrome using electroencephalography. Journal of Neuropsychology, 16(1), 1-20.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 1, 2021
Online Publication Date May 5, 2021
Publication Date 2022-03
Deposit Date Apr 19, 2021
Publicly Available Date May 6, 2022
Journal Journal of Neuropsychology
Print ISSN 1748-6645
Electronic ISSN 1748-6653
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue 1
Pages 1-20
Keywords Behavioral Neuroscience; Cognitive Neuroscience; Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
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