The treatment of muscle tics with dissimilar competing response practice

J Appl Behav Anal. Spring 1989;22(1):35-42. doi: 10.1901/jaba.1989.22-35.


Prior research has shown that muscle tics can be suppressed by the performance of a competing response contingent on the occurrence of the muscle tics. In an effort to determine whether the topography of the competing response was important to the muscle tic suppressing effects of contingent competing response practice, we evaluated the effects of a competing response that was topographically dissimilar to the muscle tic. Three subjects engaged in dissimilar competing responses contingent on the occurrence of a muscle tic; 2 of these subjects subsequently engaged in similar competing response practice. The results showed a decrease in objective measures of muscle tic frequency with the introduction of dissimilar competing response practice for each subject; subsequent exposure to similar competing response practice for 2 subjects resulted in no additional decrement in the level of muscle tics. These results suggest that the topography of the competing response may not be crucial for the suppression of muscle tics. Discrepancies between the objective measures of muscle tics and self-recorded measures are noted and discussed.