Inhibitory Control Deficits in Children with Tic Disorders Revealed by Object-Hit-And-Avoid Task

Nicholas Cothros, Alex Medina, Davide Martino, Sean P. Dukelow, Rachel L. Hawe, Adam Kirton, Christos Ganos, Elaheh Nosratmirshekarlou, Tamara Pringsheim

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Background. Tic disorders may reflect impaired inhibitory control. This has been evaluated using different behavioural tasks, yielding mixed results. Our objective was to test inhibitory control in children with tics through simultaneous presentation of multiple, mobile stimuli. Methods. Sixty-four children with tics (mean age 12.4 years; 7.5-18.5) were evaluated using a validated robotic bimanual exoskeleton protocol (Kinarm) in an object-hit-And-Avoid task, in which target and distractor objects moved across a screen and participants aimed to hit only the targets while avoiding distractors. Performance was compared to 146 typically developing controls (mean age 13 years; 6.1-19.9). The primary outcome was the percentage of distractors struck. Results. ANCOVA (age as covariate) showed participants struck significantly more distractors (participants without comorbid ADHD, 22.71% [SE 1.47]; participants with comorbid ADHD, 23.56% [1.47]; and controls, 15.59% [0.68]). Participants with comorbid ADHD struck significantly fewer targets (119.74 [2.77]) than controls, but no difference was found between participants without comorbid ADHD (122.66 [2.77]) and controls (127.00 [1.28]). Participants and controls did not differ significantly in movement speed and movement area. Just over 20% of participants with tics fell below the age-predicted norm in striking distractors, whereas fewer than 10% fell outside age-predicted norms in other task parameters. Conclusions. In children with tics (without comorbid ADHD), acting upon both targets and distractors suggests reduced ability to suppress responses to potential triggers for action. This may be related to increased sensorimotor noise or abnormal sensory gating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8825091
JournalNeural plasticity
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

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© 2021 Nicholas Cothros et al.


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