Acquisition of Stimulus Control over tic suppression: Testing the Neurobehavioral Model

Grant Type
Grant Year
Institution Location
Institution Organization Name
University of Wisconsin
Investigators Name
Woods, Douglas, PhD

There is growing evidence that tics occur more often in some situations and less in others. Unfortunately, we know little about how or why this happens. To better understand this phenomenon, we have proposed a study to determine whether settings that contain variables that affect tic frequency, can themselves control tics. In previous research, we found that when children are reinforced (rewarded) for suppressing their tics, they are able to do so for at least 40 minutes at a time, and appear to do so without a later rebound in tic frequency. Given this finding, we wanted to know whether settings that predicted reinforcement for tic-free periods could, themselves, reduce tics, even when the reinforcement for suppression was no longer provided. To test this hypothesis, 12 children will be rewarded for suppressing their tics in the presence of a purple light. In the presence of an orange light they will be instructed to suppress their tics, but will not be reinforced for doing so. They will perform each of these tasks multiple times over four days. On the fifth day, participants will be shown either the purple or orange lights, but they will not be given explicit instructions to suppress their tics. We expect that tic frequency will be lower in the presence of the purple light than the orange light. If successful, these preliminary data will provide initial insight into the variability of tic expression exhibited by individuals with TS. Study results will serve as pilot data for requesting additional NIH support for large-scale tests of the neurobehavioral model involved. The data could also modify existing nonpharmacological treatments for TS. DouglasW.Woods, Ph.D. University ofWisconsin-Milwaukee Milwaukee, WI Award: $29,989 In honor of Abbey Meyers. In recognition and with deep appreciation for her decades of untiring efforts on behalf of all people with rare disorders. Tourette Association of America Inc. – Research Grant Award 2007-2008