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Saccadic performance characteristics and the behavioural neurology of Tourette’s syndrome


OBJECTIVE To better understand the neuropathological correlates of Tourette’s syndrome (TS), measures of saccadic eye movement performance were examined among patients with TS.

METHODS A case-control design was used. Twenty one patients with DSM-IV TS (mean age 40.6 years (SD 11.0); 38% female) mainly recruited from UCSD Psychiatry Services, and a community based sample of 21 normal subjects (mean age 34.6 years (SD 13.4); 43% women) participated in this study. Participants were administered ocular motor tasks assessing visual fixation, and the generation of prosaccades, predictive saccades, and antisaccades. Saccadic reaction time, amplitude, duration, and mean and peak velocity were computed. Intrusive saccades during visual fixation and the proportion of correct antisaccade responses were also evaluated.

RESULTS The groups had similar visual fixation performance. Whereas patients with TS generated prosaccades with normal reaction times and amplitudes, their saccade durations were shorter and their mean velocities were higher than in normal subjects. During a prosaccade gap task, patients with TS exhibited an increased proportion of anticipatory saccades (RTs<90). The proportion of “express” saccades (90<RTs<135) did not differ between groups. Patients with TS had fewer correct antisaccade responses than did normal subjects, an effect accounted for by 19% of the patients. Antisaccade reaction times among patients with TS were increased during an overlap version of the task.

Conclusion—These findings suggest that TS mildly affects the ocular motor control circuitry associated with saccade inhibition.

  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • saccades
  • corticosubcortical circuitry
  • basal ganglia

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