I’ve just read an interesting article in the New Scientist about some research into an aspect of Tourettes that’s very familiar to me. Researchers at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf have been able to simulate an element of Tourettes called echopraxia in people who don’t have the condition.
Echopraxia is a feature of Tourettes (and of some other neurological conditions) where tics mimic other people’s movements and gestures. Amazingly the researchers were able to simulate this behaviour temporarily in people without the condition.
They did this by stimulating a region of the brain called the supplementary motor area (SMA) using strong magnetic pulses, and they found that 1 in 3 participants exhibited Echopraxia as a result.
Studies like this are important because they help chip away at the many mysteries of Tourettes and improve understanding of the brain.
This research also offers a glimmer of hope to those people who don’t have Tourettes, but who long to tic.