The cognitive neuropsychiatry of Tourette syndrome

Andrea E Cavanna, Christos Ganos, Andreas Hartmann, Davide Martino, Tamara Pringsheim, Stefano Seri

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Converging evidence from both clinical and experimental studies has shown that Tourette syndrome (TS) is not a unitary condition, but a cluster of multiple phenotypes, which encompass both tics and specific behavioural and cognitive symptoms (mainly attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder). Methods: We conducted a narrative review of the recent literature on the cognitive neuropsychiatry of TS. Results: Although clinical research has shown that TS is not associated with cognitive deficits per se, the findings of recent studies have suggested the presence of subtle alterations in specific cognitive functions. A promising line of research on imitative behaviour could provide a common background for the alterations in executive control and social cognition observed in TS. Two different (but not mutually exclusive) neurocognitive theories have recently suggested that TS could originate from altered perception-action binding and social decision-making dysfunction, respectively. Conclusions: Since the presence of behavioural comorbidities influences individualised treatment approaches, it is likely that a more precise characterisation of TS phenotypes, including cognitive aspects, will result in improved levels of care for patients with tic disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-268
Number of pages15
JournalCognitive Neuropsychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity/diagnosis
  • Cognition/physiology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction/diagnosis
  • Executive Function/physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Status and Dementia Tests
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder/diagnosis
  • Tourette Syndrome/diagnosis


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