Impaired Motor Timing in Tourette Syndrome: Results From a Case–Control Study in Children

Federica Graziola, Chiara Pellorca, Lorena Di Criscio, Federico Vigevano, Paolo Curatolo, Alessandro Capuano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by motor and vocal tics. Co-occurrence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is very frequent in the pediatric population as well as the presence of an impairment of the executive functions. The aim of our study was to investigate motor timing, that is, the temporal organization of motor behavior, in a pediatric population of Tourette patients. Thirty-seven Tourette patients (divided in 22 “pure” Tourette patients and 15 with ADHD) were compared with 22 healthy age- and gender-matched subjects. All subjects underwent a neuropsychiatric screening and were tested for their planning and decision-making abilities by using a standardized test, such as Tower of London (ToL). Two experimental paradigms were adopted: finger-tapping test (FTT), a free motor tapping task, and synchronization–continuation task. An accuracy index was calculated as measure of ability of synchronization. We found that “pure” TS as well as TS+ADHD showed lower scores in the FTT for the dominant and non-dominant hands than controls. Moreover, in the synchronization and continuation test, we observed an overall lack of accuracy in both TS groups in the continuation phase for 2,000 ms (supra-second interval), interestingly, with opposite direction of accuracy index. Thus, “pure” TS patients were classified as “behind the beat,” whereas, TS+ADHD as “ahead of the beat.” The performance in the finger tapping was inversely correlated to ToL total scores and execution time, whereas we did not find any correlation with the accuracy index of the synchronization and continuation test. In conclusion, here, we explored motor timing ability in a childhood cohort of Tourette patients, confirming that patients exhibit an impaired temporal control of motor behavior and these findings may be explained by the common underlying neurobiology of TS and motor timing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number552701
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Publication statusPublished - Oct 29 2020


  • ADHD
  • finger tapping
  • motor timing
  • synchronization ability
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Tower of London

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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