The Imitation Game in Children With Tourette Syndrome: A Lack of Impulse Control to Mirror Environmental Stimuli

in Motor Control
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  • 1 IRCCS Orthopedic Institute Galeazzi, Scientific Direction, Milan, Italy
  • | 2 Tourette’s Syndrome and Movement Disorders Centre, IRCCS Orthopedic Institute Galeazzi, Milan, Italy
  • | 3 Luigi Sacco University Hospital, Psychiatry 2 Unit, University of Milan, Milan, Italy
  • | 4 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA
  • | 5 CRC Aldo Ravelli for Neurotechnology and Experimental Brain Therapeutics, University of Milan, Milan, Italy
  • | 6 Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Parma, Parma, Italy
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The learning process in humans requires continuous contacts with environmental stimuli, especially during neurodevelopmental growth. These functions are assisted by the coding potential of mirror neurons to serve social interactions. This ability to learn imitating the observed behavior is no longer necessary during adulthood, and control mechanisms prevent automatic mirroring. However, children with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome could encounter coding errors at the level of the mirror neurons system as these cortical regions are themselves the ones affected in the syndrome. Combined with impulsivity, the resulting sign would be a manifest echopraxia that persists throughout adulthood, averting these individuals from the appraisal of a spot-on motor control.

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