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How Visual Feedback of Own Tics Affects Tic Frequency

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  • How Visual Feedback of Own Tics Affects Tic Frequency

    Visual feedback of own tics increases tic frequency in patients with Tourette’s syndrome
    Cognitive Neuroscience
    V. C. Brandtab*, M. T. Lynnc, M. Obstb, M. Brassc & A. Münchaub
    Published online: 04 Sep 2014


    Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS) is characterized by motor and phonic tics. It is unknown how paying attention to one’s own tics might modulate tic frequency.

    We determined tic frequency in freely ticcing GTS patients while they were being filmed. In Study 1, we investigated 12 patients (1) alone in a room (baseline); (2) alone in front of a mirror.

    In Study 2, we replicated these conditions in 16 patients and additionally examined how watching a video, in which the individual was shown not ticcing, affected their tic frequency.

    In both studies, tic frequency was significantly higher when patients watched themselves in a mirror compared to baseline. In contrast, tic frequency was significantly reduced in the video condition. Paying attention to one’s own tics increases tic frequency when tics are not suppressed and appears to be specific for attention to tics, rather than attention to the self.

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  • #2
    Re: How Visual Feedback of Own Tics Affects Tic Frequency

    New research examines effect on Tourette's (patients) when exposed to their own image
    News Medical
    November 28, 2014

    Tourette's syndrome is characterised by tics caused in many by premonitory urges; sensations which give patients compulsion to act to relieve discomfort. Habit reversal therapy conditions patients into heightened awareness of premonitory urges and forced counteraction of the tic.

    New research in Cognitive Neuroscience examines the effect on Tourette's sufferers when exposed to their own image for a prolonged period. Could introduction of patients' self-image reduce tics due to heightened self-awareness and subsequent self-imposed tic control?

    Or might watching themselves increase inclination to tic? Will making the patient perceive tics induce actual tics? Two studies were undertaken to observe outcomes and findings are hoped to have positive implications for future behavioural interventions in Tourette's syndrome patients.

    Study 1 observed 12 patients, firstly alone in a room, then alone in front of a mirror. Study 2 duplicated this process with 16 patients, with the addition of them watching a video of themselves in a constant tic-free state.

    They were rated for tic frequency, how many times tics were immediately repeated and how many different tics occurred. In both studies tic frequency was higher with a mirror than without. Extraordinarily tic frequency was greatly reduced in patients observing the video of their tic-free selves. Use of a mirror clearly caused more frequent ticcing in patients.

    Was this due to increased tic-awareness or heightened self-awareness? This question may be answered by the video control. Patients paid attention to the self but tic rate decreased; the authors note, "A higher tic frequency in association with visual feedback may be the result of anticipated sensory effects of a tic, especially in association with the relief of premonitory urges".

    They advise further observations of patients shown a video of themselves ticcing, to establish whether the decrease was due to general focus away from tics or specific attention focused on the non-ticcing self.
    TouretteLinks Forum


    • #3
      Re: How Visual Feedback of Own Tics Affects Tic Frequency

      I can relate to this. I'm curious about myself now.

      Emotions as they relate to the self are different for us. In my case I've discovered things like being honest about mistakes in public actually helps me reinforce any overwrites of bad habits (as a nice plus to the fact that being unwilling to admit a mistake is bad on multiple levels).