Research on the neural mechanisms underlying Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS) has mostly concentrated on abnormalities in basal ganglia circuits. Recent alternative accounts, however, focused more on social and affective aspects. Individuals with GTS show peculiarities in their social and affective domain, including echophenomena, coprolalia, and nonobscene socially inappropriate behavior. This article reviews the experimental and theoretical work done on the social symptoms of GTS. We discuss the role of different social cognitive and affective functions and associated brain networks, namely, the social-decision-making system, theory-of-mind functions, and the so-called "mirrorneuron" system. Although GTS affects social interactions in many ways, and although the syndrome includes aberrant social behavior, the underlying cognitive, affective, and neural processes remain to be investigated.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)