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Research into Tourette Syndrome

Research into genetics, brain imaging, behavioural science, neuroscience and neuropathology is helping us to make progress towards understanding the basis of Tourette Syndrome (TS). Tourettes Action hopes this research will lead to improved diagnosis and medical treatments which have fewer side effects. Thanks to medical and scientific advances there is the possibility of exciting new technologies that will be available to researchers.

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Tourettes Action are delighted to announce their recent membership of the AMRC (Association of Medical Research Charities). AMRC membership is the hallmark of quality research funding. This is a network of over 130 medical and health research charities, supporting medical research in the UK.  AMRC membership is a hallmark of quality and offers real financial benefits to members.

This ‘quality standard’ mark will help us to attract future high quality researchers to apply for our grants

Other important aspects of research include increasing our understanding of the prevalence of TS, the quality of life among people affected by TS and risk and protective factors associated with the impact of TS. Results from research are used to increase public understanding as well as improving the lives and health outcomes of people affected by TS.

There are a number of research projects currently running, many of which are looking for participants. Read more about taking part in research projects.

We have created the following resources (right side column) for researchers:

Recruiting participants
Writing a Lay Summary 
Letters of Support for Researchers

Current research projects into TS

Below is a list of current research projects sponsored or supported by TA. 

  • University College London (UCL) - Attentional and inhibitory mechanisms in Tourette’s syndrome.
    Researchers are looking for adults with a diagnosis of Tourette’s syndrome aged 18-65 years to take part in our study looking at the role of attention and inhibitory mechanisms in tic generation and management. Research will involve the completion of questionnaires about your condition, computer-based cognitive tasks and non-invasive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to measure motor system activity. If you choose to take part, we will reimburse you for your time and travel expenses. To find out more please contact Leanne Hockey
  • Is skin sensitivity in Tourette syndrome just a feeling or reality? Researchers from the University of Nottingham are recruiting participants (16 years plus) for a new study involving  brain stimulation. For this study we will be using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which is a non-invasive, safe and painless method of stimulating small muscles in your body (e.g., hand, upper arm and lips). The whole session should not last longer than 1 hour and a half, and you can take as many breaks as you want. You will receive £15 for taking part.If you are interested please get in touch with Hilmar.Sigurdsson@nottingham.ac.uk
  • Nottingham researchers are now also looking for participants (children between 9 and 16 years) with either uncomplicated TS or TS with another condition (eg ADHD , ASD )
    If you join in, you will play a fun game using 2D robot in two sessions, held on consecutive days. It will also help us find out more about how well children learn and keep new habits. You will receive a shopping voucher for the value of £30 on completion of the study.
    Please contact Mrs Jane Fowlie Research Nurse for further details of either LoTUS or LoTUS2 on 0115 9515316
  • University of Wolverhampton - looking for young people between 11 - 13 to participate in research that will measure the effect of Mindfulness in reducing tics in young people.Free talking therapy is being offered to young people as part of this study. Researchers are looking for young people interested in trying out a new way of working therapeutically to try and reduce tic frequency. Participants can be visited at home, if preferred, by a researcher who will explain the intervention and how the talking therapy works.   Find out more about this research or email
  • The University of Nottingham are looking for volunteers to help with research studies - there are three studies you can join in within their research programme called CATS (Volitional Control of Action in Young People with Tourette syndrome). Find out more about this research.

In June 2015 a landmark international conference was held for professionals and Tourette Syndrome organisations in London, showcasing the latest research and future developments in the field of TS.  Find out more information about the conference in our News section

You can read about previous research projects in our Archive section

Spotlight on researchers

Interested to know who is working to discover more about TS? Follow our Spotlight series to learn more about the dedicated researchers working on this subject.

  • Diana Beljaars - Talks poignantly on life with her younger sister who has TS
  • Paula Greenman - Discusses her research into Mindfulness Based Interventions for TS
  • Charlotte Hibberd - Researching the link between sleep, learning, behaviour and mood in children with TS

  • Leanne Hockey - investigates whether attentional and/or inhibitory mechanisms are altered in Tourettes

  • Soyoung Kim - Examines the motor learning mechanisms in children with TS
  • Elena Nixon - Focuses on the effectiveness of behavioural therapies for young people with TS 
  • Dr Victoria Pile - Examines how anxiety and low mood affect children and young people with TS
  • Charlotte Rae - Research Fellow interested in the role anxiety might have in movement control
  • Hilmar Sigurdssond - research investigating the occurrence and frequency of urges prior to tics and sensory sensitivity 
  • Laura Weir - researching the effectiveness of the TA passport
 
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