Similarities and differences between normal urges and the urge to tic

Cogn Neurosci. Sep-Dec 2011;2(3-4):245-6. doi: 10.1080/17588928.2011.618630.


Abstract Investigations into the neurobiological substrates underlying urge are important for developing better understanding and treatment for impulse-control disorders. We characterize the phenomenon based on normal bodily (interoceptive) urges. Features include the following: a preceding awareness of an uncomfortable bodily sensation, a sense of urgency that action must be taken, rising distress when action is delayed, a temporary (e.g., a few minutes in length) ability to suppress or manifest the action voluntarily, subsequent relief once action is taken, association with an action that is necessary to survival. We compare and contrast these characteristics with those described by Tourette syndrome patients as the urge to tic, and highlight several unknowns which merit further investigation.