Tourette syndrome research highlights from 2017 (old editor)

See new version here.

Kevin J. Black, M.D. (1-4)* (ORCiD 0000-0002-6921-9567)

Departments of (1) Psychiatry, (2) Neurology, (3) Radiology, and (4) Neuroscience, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA

* Address correspondence to Dr. Black at Campus Box 8134, 660 S. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, Missouri, USA or

Copyright © 2017, the author.


We present here a work in progress, summarizing research from 2017 relevant to Tourette syndrome. This working draft aims towards a preprint that we plan to submit for publication around the end of 2017. The authors briefly summarize a few reports they consider most important or interesting, and provide links to others.

We welcome article suggestions and thoughtful feedback from readers, who can comment using the text balloon icons that appear if you hover the mouse pointer over the upper right edge of each section of the article.


This article is meant to disseminate recent scientific progress on Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome (TS). Through the end of the year, it will be a work in progress, maintained as a web page on the Authorea online authoring platform. Around the end of the year, we plan to submit it for publication as the 2017 annual update for the Tics channel on F1000Research.


We searched PubMed from time to time during 2017 using the search strategy “("Tic Disorders"[MeSH] OR Tourette NOT Tourette[AU]) AND 2017[PDAT] NOT 1950:2016[PDAT]”. On 22 Feb 2017 this search returned 17 citations. Colleagues also recommended articles, and we attended selected medical conferences. We selected material for this review subjectively, guided by our judgment of possible future impact on the field.


Phenomenology and natural history

A report on 606 patients with a movement disorder starting in childhood produced an estimate for tic onset of 7.4 ± 3.8 years with a mean delay to diagnosis of 9.9 ± 11 years (Bäumer 2016).

Tic suppression

(Morand-Beaulieu 2017)

Sensory phenomena

The Committee on Research of the American Neuropsychiatric Association published a systematic review on the neurobiology of the premonitory urge in TS (Cavanna 2017).


In a very large epidemiological study, tic disorders in adults were associated with a four-fold higher risk of suicide, with the risk not explained by other psychiatric illness such as major depression (Fernández de la Cruz 2017).

Autism spectrum rating scale scores are elevated in TS (Darrow 2017). This is mostly but not entirely explained by elevations in the RRB (restricted interests and repetitive behaviors) subscale, which may be indicating tics rather than other stereotypic movements. The presence of OCD was associated with higher scores on the social cognition and RRB subscales.

Review of screening instruments and rating scales for tic disorders (Martino 2017), and comments (Augustine 2017, Martino 2017a)

A study of 45 children with TS supported the typical antecedent--behavior--consequence behavioral psychology model (Eaton 2017). Specifically, consequences of tics, "such as receiving accommodations or attention from others," explained significantly more variance in tic severity than did the child's level of separation anxiety, though the latter was also a significant factor. This study provides supportive evidence for the approach taken by "CBIT-Jr," a behavior therapy designed for younger children with TS (Piacentini 2015).