The cognitive mechanisms underlying impaired control of urges may be distinct in obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette syndrome, according to a study published in Movement Disorders.

This study included 37 patients between the ages of 7.5 and 15.1 (mean age, 11.0 ± 2.3 years), who were diagnosed with Tourette syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or both, and who had not received medication for the condition. A control group with matched characteristics was also evaluated (mean age, 10.8 ± 1.6). 

Both groups had tasks of stopping or not stopping a compulsive behavior. Children with tics were found to have control behaviors comparable with those of healthy children, whereas children with obsessive-compulsive disorder did not exhibit such control. Inhibitory control behavior may be impaired in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorderIn conclusion, “inhibitory control is not at the core of [Tourette syndrome], whereas it is severely impaired in [obsessive-compulsive disorder] patients… [These] findings suggest that at least in children/adolescents, the cognitive mechanisms underlying tics and compulsion control have a different nature in the 2 disorders.”

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Mancini C, Cardona F, Baglioni V, et al. Inhibition is impaired in children with obsessive-compulsive symptoms but not in those with tics [published online May 21, 2018]. Mov Disord. doi: 10.1002/mds.27406