Tourette syndrome research highlights from 2016

Kevin J. Black, M.D. (1,3-5)* (ORCiD 0000-0002-6921-9567)
Cheryl A. Richards, Ph.D. (1,2)
Departments of (1) Psychiatry, (2) Medicine, (3) Neurology, (4) Radiology, and (5) 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 © 2016-2017, the authors.


We present here a work in progress, summarizing research from 2016 relevant to Tourette syndrome. This working draft aims towards a preprint that we plan to submit for publication around 12/31/2016. 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 2016 annual update for the Tics channel on F1000Research.


We searched PubMed from time to time during 2016 using the search strategy “("Tic Disorders"[MeSH] OR Tourette NOT Tourette[AU]) AND 2016[PDAT] NOT 1950:2015[PDAT]”. On 06 Jan 2017 this search returned 186 citations, none of which had first appeared in 2017. 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

Depression in Tourette syndrome: Comparing BDI-II scores in 65 people with TS with BDI-I scores in several hundred patients with major depression and 200+ controls. In this patient sample, depressive symptoms were as common and severe as in patients with major depression. Irritability was endorsed more.

Environmental effects on tics, measured subjectively and objectively (Barnea 2016).

Counterintuitively, in this experimental design, tics became less frequent during a short-term psychosocial stressor (Buse 2016).

A large case series (N > 1000) from one clinic suggests that “premonitory urges (PU) … were found to be highly associated with ‘not just right experiences’ and to emerge much earlier than previously thought alongside with the ability to suppress tics (PU in >60% and suppressibility in >75% at age 8–10 years)” (Sambrani 2016). Also, “our data suggest that [self-injurious behavior] belongs to the coprophenomena spectrum and hence should be conceptualized as a complex tic rather than a compulsion.”

Tic suppression

Title Comment
(Wylie 2016) Motor and vocal inhibition (action stopping) in young adults with TS.
(Brandt 2016) A clever experiment to investigate the timing of urges in relation to tics, compulsions and blinks.
(Drury 2016) "Self-reported emotion regulation in adults with Tourette's syndrome"
(Brabson 2016) "Patterned changes in urge ratings with tic suppression in youth with chronic tic disorders" -- urge ratings can show a lot of variability from one subject to another

Sensory phenomena

Title Comment
(Beste 2016) "Altered perceptual binding in Gilles de la Tourette syndrome"


Title Comment
(Brown 2016) Influence of Musical Engagement on Symptoms of Tourette’s Disorder
(Yang 2016) "The prevalence of diagnosed Tourette syndrome in Canada"