Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 182, Issue 3, pp 357–364 | Cite as

Enhanced cognitive control in Tourette Syndrome during task uncertainty

  • G. M. Jackson
  • S. C. Mueller
  • K. Hambleton
  • C. P. Hollis
Research Article


Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a developmental neurological condition that is characterised by the presence of multiple motor and one or more vocal tics. Tics are highly stereotyped repetitive behaviours that fluctuate in type, complexity and severity. TS has been linked to impaired cognitive control processes, however, a recent study (Mueller et al. in Curr Biol 16:570–573, 2006) demonstrated that young people with TS, although exhibiting chronic motor and vocal tics, nevertheless performed significantly better than a group of age-matched controls on a task that required extremely high levels of cognitive control (i.e., predictably shifting between executing pro-saccade and anti-saccade responses to a visual stimulus). As predictable task sequences allow task-related cognitive processes to commence prior to the presentation of target stimuli we examined whether the superior performance of the TS group could be replicated when task sequences were varied unpredictably. Our results confirmed that both the TS group and an age-matched control group benefited, by the same extent, when the saccade task (pro-saccade vs. anti-saccade) was pre-cued. In contrast, while the control group showed a significant decrease in performance on task switch trials relative to task repetition trials—the TS group exhibited no significant ‘costs’ of switching task. While task performance was modulated by response and target location shifts in the control group, these factors had less impact on the TS group’s performance on task switch trials. These results confirm and extend the previous demonstration that individuals with TS exhibit paradoxically greater levels of cognitive control than healthy controls.


Cognitive control Tourette syndrome Eye movements Executive function 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. M. Jackson
    • 1
  • S. C. Mueller
    • 1
  • K. Hambleton
    • 1
  • C. P. Hollis
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Psychiatry, Queen’s Medical CentreThe University of NottinghamNottinghamUK

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