Distinct treatment needed: Tourette's and obsessive-compulsive disorder

May 14, 2008

While 30 to 50 percent of people with Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome are also affected with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), both illnesses might have a distinct neurocognitive profile, according to a new study published in the journal Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Brain Psychiatry by researchers from the Université de Montréal and the Fernand-Seguin Research Centre of the Louis-H Lafontaine Hospital.

“In the study of cerebral activity or the relationship with working memory and attention, this was the first study to show a clear dissociation between OCD and Tourette’s dimensions. This could have a major impact in the treatment. It is difficult to treat Tourette’s symptoms if you don’t identify and address symptoms of OCD first,” said Université de Montréal associate researcher Dr. Marc Lavoie, who completed the study with students Geneviève Thibault and Mihaela Felezeu, and clinician collaborators Kieron O’Connor, Christo Todorov and Emmanuel Stip.

Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome is a complex neuropsychiatric disorder, marked by increasing motor and phonic tics, which begins in childhood and peaked at 11 years old. The illness affects 0,05 to 3 percent of children and about 1 percent of adults. OCD, an anxiety disorder characterized by obsessions and compulsions, affects 2.5 percent of the population.

“When testing patients, we found that brain regions associated with working memory among people affected by Tourette’s are much more active than control subjects when stimulated, while regions associated with working memory in OCD patients decreased,” explained Dr. Lavoie.

The research team invited four groups to take part in their study:

-- A first group of 14 adults affected by Tourette’s but not OCD.
-- A second group of 12 adults affected by both Tourette’s and OCD.
-- A third group of 15 participants with OCD alone.
-- A fourth group of 14 people without neurological or psychiatric problems.

Subjects were asked to perform a series of experimental tasks to stimulate specific brain regions. In one test, subjects viewed shapes and singled out which images differed. A electroencephalogram monitored brain activity throughout each test. “This study will help clinicians provide better diagnostic and treatment by isolating therapies that will better help OCD or Tourette’s patients,” said Dr. Lavoie.

Source: University of Montreal

Explore further: How do Tourette's patients react to visual stimulation with their own self-image?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

After a data breach, it's consumers left holding the bag

1 minute ago

Shoppers have launched into the holiday buying season and retailers are looking forward to year-end sales that make up almost 20% of their annual receipts. But as you check out at a store or click "purchase" on your online shopping cart ...

Staying warm: The hot gas in clusters of galaxies

31 minutes ago

Most galaxies lie in clusters, groupings of a few to many thousands of galaxies. Our Milky Way galaxy itself is a member of the "Local Group," a band of about fifty galaxies whose other large member is the ...

Gold rush an ecological disaster for Peruvian Amazon

31 minutes ago

A lush expanse of Amazon rainforest known as the "Mother of God" is steadily being destroyed in Peru, with the jungle giving way to mercury-filled tailing ponds used to extract the gold hidden underground.

Recommended for you

Ebola aid dogged by coordination lags in Guinea

16 hours ago

Eight months into West Africa's Ebola outbreak, aid efforts in Guinea still suffer from poor coordination, hampering deployments of international support to help quell a virus that has killed more than 1,200 ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.