Patterned changes in urge ratings with tic suppression in youth with chronic tic disorders

Laurel A. Brabson, Jessica L. Brown, Matthew R. Capriotti, Krishnapriya Ramanujam, Michael B. Himle, Cassandra M. Nicotra, Rick Ostrander, Laura M. Kelly, Marco A. Grados, John T. Walkup, Carisa Perry-Parrish, Elizabeth K. Reynolds, Jessica C. Hankinson, Matt W. Specht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Abstract Background Premonitory urges are central to emerging behavioral models of chronic tic disorders (CTD). Urge reduction has been proposed as a behavioral explanation for tic maintenance and exacerbation as well as the efficacy of behavioral treatments. Prior investigations have produced inconsistent findings despite common methodologies. The current study evaluated the possibility that data aggregation obscures distinct and meaningful patterns of change in urge ratings when tics are freely expressed versus suppressed. Method Participants (n = 12) included children with moderate-to-marked tic severity and noticeable premonitory urges. Tic frequencies and urge ratings were obtained at 15 s and 10-s intervals, respectively, across an alternating sequence of 10-min tic freely and 40-min tic suppression conditions. Patterns were established using a two step approach. Results Five distinct patterns of urge rating change emerged, suggesting data aggregation may obscure meaningful patterns in the urge-tic relationship when tics are completed versus suppressed. Limitations Eligibility criteria may have unintentionally excluded younger affected children and included older participants with more severe tic disorders than commonly seen. Additional research with less stringent eligibility criteria and a larger sample size will help validate the results. Conclusions The relationship between urges and tics is much more complex than previously theorized. Investigations that rely on global assessments of urge and tic severity and/or assume uniformity when aggregating participant data may obscure meaningful differences in the urge-tic relationship. Future investigations should examine the possibility that individual differences and/or developmental considerations modulate the functional urge-tic relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1155
Pages (from-to)162-170
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
StatePublished - Aug 11 2016


  • Negative reinforcement
  • Tic suppression
  • Tourette's
  • Urge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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