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Thread: Learning a Foreign Language and Tics?

  1. #1
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    Post Learning a Foreign Language and Tics?

    Has anybody tried learning a foreign language?

    I have never been diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome, but I have been diagnosed with ADHD and autism spectrum disorder, and I do have echolalic and motoric tics. I've been learning Japanese for a long time. I will sometimes get an urge to say something in Japanese that I've heard; this urge often comes out of nowhere, and it's somtimes a phrase I haven't heard or thought about in a while. When I like a phrase and listen to it over and over again, I can feel the urge to move my facial muscles along with it. When I practice Japanese, my arms will want to move according to the lengths of the vowels I pronounce, a short motion for a short vowel (1 mora or "beat" long), and a longer, more extended motion for a long vowel (2 morae long). I get the urge to make a squeezing motion when coming across a geminate (double) consonant.

    Has anyone else had similar experiences?

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    Default Re: Learning a Foreign Language and Tics?

    Welcome to the Forum, beneficii! Thanks for joining us.

    I wonder if your vocal expressions are Tourette based function of palilalia, another form of phonic or vocal tic, perhaps combined with learning a foreign language.

    Paliphenomena - Similar to echophenomena. Involves the person with TS repeating their own words and actions such as "Hello, I came here by bus bus bus bus".

    I am not a neuroscientist, and can only speculate as a lay observer, based on my understanding of what goes on in a Tourette brain.

    Consider this:
    How the Brain Makes Way for a Second Language
    Studies involving sophisticated brain imaging technologies called functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI, have also revealed some intriguing patterns in the way our brains process first and second languages.

    Joy Hirsch and her colleagues at Cornell University used fMRI to determine how multiple languages are represented in the human brain. They found that native and second languages are spatially separated in Broca’s area, which is a region in the frontal lobe of the brain that is responsible for the motor parts of language-movement of the mouth, tongue, and palate. In contrast, the two languages show very little separation in the activation of Wernicke’s area, an area of the brain in the posterior part of the temporal lobe, which is responsible for comprehension of language. Source: Brain Connection
    Broca's area is involved mostly in the production of speech. Given its proximity to the motor cortex, neurons from Broca's area send signals to the larynx, tongue and mouth motor areas, which in turn send the signals to the corresponding muscles, thus allowing the creation of sounds. Source: Wilkepedia: Language Processing In The Brain
    Tourette tics are bits of movements or sounds that slip through the corpus striatum, a kind of "gatekeeper" in the brain that in a Tourette brain allows inappropriate movements or sounds to be expressed. The striatum in a Tourette brain has been found to be slightly less in volume than in a neurotypical brain, thereby being deficient in the brain chemistry to function at full capacity where inappropriate sounds and movements would be inhibited.

    So, my lay person's speculation would explain your tic symptoms as perhaps a Tourette vocal tic (palilalia) influenced or triggered by language learning.

    It is also thought that Tourette's, OCD, ADHD: Closer Together Than We Thought | Marco Grados MD., Johns Hopkins

    Please understand this is pure speculation on my part.

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    Default Re: Learning a Foreign Language and Tics?

    Thanks for your response. If I may ask, how would this be palilalia instead of echolalia?

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    Default Re: Learning a Foreign Language and Tics?

    If I may ask, how would this be palilalia instead of echolalia?
    I re-read your initial post, and see what you mean...you tend to favor repeating phrases / words you've heard.

    I will sometimes get an urge to say something in Japanese that I've heard
    The distinction would be timing. If you're repeating something you hear, and immediately repeat it, then it would fall under the definition of echolalia.

    I think I jumped to the wrong conclusion when I read the words "like a phrase" making me think you were expressing the phrase from memory rather than hearing and repeating.

    It could be my own ADHD got my thoughts ahead of my eyes...

    When I like a phrase and listen to it over and over again, I can feel the urge
    Thanks for catching the error!

    Are you receiving any treatment or therapy for your symptoms?





    For anyone following the discussion, the respective definitions are:


    Echolalia- Involuntary repetition of words or phrases said by others; the involuntary parrot-like repetition (echoing) of a word or sentence just spoken by another person.

    Palilalia - Repeatedly saying one's own words or phrases

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    Default Re: Learning a Foreign Language and Tics?

    I will do palilalia of stuff I've said, often immediately afterward, including stuff in Japanese. I can do the same with imitating others.

    Nevertheless, I do believe that there's such a thing called delayed echolalia, which occurs sometime after the stimulus occurred. I'm pretty sure I have this in the form of a tic.

    I am not particularly distressed by these tics, and I am able to control them well enough not to be embarrassed, so I don't seek treatment for this. I am in treatment for other stuff, however.

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    Default Re: Learning a Foreign Language and Tics?

    Lol I speak 4 almost 5 languages, before I knew any Russian, some of my tics would be really hard to satisfy because I couldn't articulate the sounds I wanted..

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    Default Re: Learning a Foreign Language and Tics?

    I am not particularly distressed by these tics, and I am able to control them well enough not to be embarrassed, so I don't seek treatment for this. I am in treatment for other stuff, however.
    That is what many if not most Tourette specialists would counsel...the tics are not always the greatest issue but rather the associated (comorbid) disorders like OCD, ADHD, mood and anxiety disorders, conduct disorders and sensory integration are the issues that are lifelong and often need to be addressed.

    Please see: Tourette Syndrome - Beyond the Tics (Medscape Article)

    behavioral challenges in students with TS, co-ocurring conditions

    http://www.tsa-socal.org/wp-content/...TS-is-More.pdf

    http://www.tsa-ma.org/resources/Tour...onceptions.pdf

    Do you find learning languages comes easy for you? Do you learn languages for your work or for pleasure?

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    Default Re: Learning a Foreign Language and Tics?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve View Post
    That is what many if not most Tourette specialists would counsel...the tics are not always the greatest issue but rather the associated (comorbid) disorders like OCD, ADHD, mood and anxiety disorders, conduct disorders and sensory integration are the issues that are lifelong and often need to be addressed.

    Please see: Tourette Syndrome - Beyond the Tics (Medscape Article)

    behavioral challenges in students with TS, co-ocurring conditions

    http://www.tsa-socal.org/wp-content/...TS-is-More.pdf

    http://www.tsa-ma.org/resources/Tour...onceptions.pdf

    Do you find learning languages comes easy for you? Do you learn languages for your work or for pleasure?
    I don't know if it's easy or not; for pleasure. Japanese is the only language I've learned.

    Nevertheless, I believe these tics have ultimately made me better at pronunciation than I would be otherwise. Basically, these tics make it to where I'm going to practice my pronunciation, or at least the motor movements involved, whether I'm in the mood for it or not.

    One example: Early in the process, I was watching an anime called Ranma. In the second episode, there is a scene where the character Akane calls out Ranma's name. I fixated on the pronunciation of that, especially the 'r' sound which reminded me of the English 'l' sound. From time to time, I would suddenly get the urge to move my mouth in such a way as to say the word. Now I seem to pronounce the Japanese 'r' pretty well.

    Sometimes, though, this urge can be for phrases I'm not even really thinking about. Suddenly, the phrase (or usually a fragment) will pop into my field of awareness and I will find myself making the mouth movements over and over again while analyzing the words. The sensation while I'm doing this is strange, almost like I am wanting to gnaw the words.
    Last edited by beneficii; June 25, 2016 at 12:14 PM.

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    Default Re: Learning a Foreign Language and Tics?

    The interesting thing about Tourette tics is the apparent overlap with OCD and the urge to express tics combined with the sensory satisfaction involved in expressing the tic is a particular way until it feels just right.

    All this lends support to the emerging understanding that Tourette, OCD and ADHD all seem to have a common root in the brain.

    Another article that you may find informative is OCD and Tourette Syndrome: Re-examining the Relationship by Charles S. Mansueto, PhD, International OCD Foundation

    Compulsions related to tic expression tend to be completed until they feel just right as opposed to compulsions that are OCD related that tend to be based on anxiety.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Learning a Foreign Language and Tics?

    Yes, this matches my experience. If I say something in Japanese (or even in English), and I get the sense I didn't say it right, I will immediately start saying it over and over again until I get it right. After that, I'm satisfied. (And I'm glad, because it means my pronunciation in Japanese is probably going to get better.)

    When I have the phrase popping into my head out of nowhere, it's the same thing. I also want to find where I originally heard it (sometimes, I can't remember where it came from), and go back to it and hear it in context.

    ---------- Post Merged on June 26, 2016 at 12:24 AM ---------- Previous Post was on June 25, 2016 at 01:43 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve View Post
    The interesting thing about Tourette tics is the apparent overlap with OCD and the urge to express tics combined with the sensory satisfaction involved in expressing the tic is a particular way until it feels just right.

    All this lends support to the emerging understanding that Tourette, OCD and ADHD all seem to have a common root in the brain.

    Another article that you may find informative is OCD and Tourette Syndrome: Re-examining the Relationship by Charles S. Mansueto, PhD, International OCD Foundation

    Compulsions related to tic expression tend to be completed until they feel just right as opposed to compulsions that are OCD related that tend to be based on anxiety.
    I read that article, and I came across this statement:

    Other writers have noted such clusters of symptoms in clinical populations, and have variously referred to them as “cognitive tics,” “sensory-based rituals,” “sensory fulfillment,” and “Factor II OCD.”
    I have seen a term similar to "cognitive tics" mentioned in literature about a different condition, "thought tics", though these come from patient self-reports. "Thought tics" are a name some patients give to a non-psychotic subjective phenomenon called thought interference, which is associated with schizophrenia, and was described in the Examination of Anomalous Self-Experience (EASE), a semi-structured interview exploring subjective symptoms, thus (item 1.1):

    Contents of consciousness (thoughts, imaginations, or impulses), semantically disconnected from the main line of thinking, appear automatically (not necessarily quickly or many), break into the main line of thinking and interfere with it. Such thoughts are often (but not always) emotionally neutral and they do not need to have a special or extraordinary meaning. The patient may use private designations to describe such thoughts (‘thought tics’, ‘acute thoughts’, and ‘surrealistic thoughts’). Thought interference often becomes intensified in frequency ending up as thought pressure (1.3) (in this case, both items are scored). Interfering thoughts may also feel anonymous, impersonal [see diminished mineness in distorted first-person perspective (2.2.1) and loss of thought ipseity below (1.2)].
    http://www.factgo.no/dok/SEPREP/EASE.PDF

    I wonder what the difference between this phenomenon and that of TOCD is. As the description above says, however, thought interference often leads to thought pressure (item 1.3), where large numbers of thoughts with different themes appear automatically in quick succession or simultaneously, causing a sense of loss of control of one's thoughts.

    (Note: I have been diagnosed with a schizophrenia spectrum disorder. Nevertheless, the phenomenon that I experience and described here seems to be more of an actual tic, not thought interference. Also, thought interference I don't think would produce that gnawing feeling where you continue the tic until you get it "just right", as nothing like that is described in the EASE.)

    ---------- Post Merged at 12:47 AM ---------- Previous Post was at 12:24 AM ----------

    Unexpectedly, when reading the same article, I come across yet another description like one found in the EASE, this time pseudo-obsessions (item 1.6.4). Here is the sentence from the article:

    Sometimes, but not typically, symptoms include intrusive sexual aggressive or gruesome images.
    Here is the text of the EASE item in question:

    Pseudo-obsessions: obsession-like phenomena, which appear more as ego-syntonic (hence there is none or only occasional resistance), frequently with pictorial imaginative character and with a content that is directly aggressive, sexually perverse, or otherwise bizarre. May be anxiety provoking.
    The ICD-10, in its criteria for schizotypal disorder, which is related to schizophrenia, describes them also:

    Obsessive ruminations without inner resistance, often with dysmorphophobic, sexual or aggressive contents;
    Josef Parnas, the lead author of the EASE, joined by Andreas Rasmussen, writes in more detail about this phenomenon in a recent article published in Psychopathology:

    https://www.researchgate.net/profile...a025154403.pdf

    A key point of these pseudo-obsessions is that the person experiencing them does not attempt to resist the imagery, but simply observes it passively with their mind's eye like watching a movie.

    Lots of similarities in the description!
    Last edited by beneficii; June 26, 2016 at 01:48 AM.

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