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Keywords:

  • Gilles de la Tourette syndrome;
  • echopraxia;
  • mirror neuron system;
  • imitation

Abstract

Background:

Tourette syndrome patients are reported to show automatic imitation (echopraxia), but this has not yet been proven experimentally.

Methods:

Video clips showing either tics of other Tourette patients or spontaneous movements of healthy subjects were presented to Tourette patients and healthy subjects. Participants' responses were assessed using blinded review of video recordings by 2 independent raters and related to stimuli presented.

Results:

Both raters detected more echoes in patients. In a permutation analysis, no healthy subject had echoes above chance level. In contrast, 6 and 5 patients were classified as echoers according to rater 1 and rater 2, respectively, in 1 analysis, and 9 patients were so classified in a second analysis (according to rater 2 only). Concordance between raters was high. Patients echoed both following stimuli showing tics and following stimuli showing spontaneous movements. Most echoes were part of patients' individual tic repertoire.

Conclusions:

Echopraxia is a hallmark of Tourette syndrome. © 2012 Movement Disorder Society