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Why does TS Research include certain age groups and not others?

Posted Tue 16th Jan 2018 at 10:34
by Seonaid Anderson


Often at Tourettes Action (TA), when we advertise research projects asking for participants, people ask about how the research is structured or why it includes a certain age group and not another. With this in mind TA research manager Dr Seonaid Anderson discussed these issues with researchers from the University of Nottingham – Dr Barbara Morera and Professor Stephen Jackson.





Barbara Morera (PhD student)

Professor Stephen Jackson &

Dr Seonaid Anderson




In your current research study being advertised on the TA website, why is there an age restriction of 12 - 28 years old for participants for this study? 

‘There is always an age range chosen for a research study. The reason why we test participants over 12 is because this is the average age when tics reach a peak and premonitory urges appear, and in this case we put the limit at 28 years as we are primarily interested in testing young adults in this particular study’. BM

Often we hear from adults who have TS who would like to be included in research, is there a reason why older people with Tourettes aren't included in your research? 

‘We focus our research mainly on young participants because older people have usually developed compensatory mechanisms to suppress their tics, which may be associated with structural and functional changes in the brain. These changes make it difficult to determine what is due to the pathology and what is due to the developed compensatory mechanisms. Also, it would be a mistake to include in the same group people that has developed compensatory mechanisms and those that have not, as their brains may be different. This is why we have chosen to focus on a younger age group in this instance’’. BM


A comment from Professor Stephen Jackson in regards to the age of participants involved in research,

there are in fact more studies conducted with adult TS patients than with children and adolescents. The difficulty is that studies with adults often produce different or, sometimes even opposite, results. We think that this is because while  many children gain control over their tics by early adulthood, some do not and these individuals continue to have tics into adulthood. This means that studying adults with TS may not always help us understand how tics become controlled during adolescence, and vice versa’. 


Tourettes Action does promote both research with adult participants as well as younger age groups – current research studies looking for adults with TS include The Social Care needs of Adults with Tourette Syndrome the European Tourette Syndrome Research Survey and Inhibitory mechanisms in Tourette’s syndrome. Sign up today and join the Research Participant Registry (a voluntary database of individuals willing to consider participating in research studies).

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