Successful voluntary tic suppression is a key component of the behavioral interventions that are used to treat tic disorders. This study aimed to examine tic suppression in children with recent-onset tics and determine whether the capacity to suppress tics predicts future tic severity. We tested 45 children (30 male, mean age 7.74 years) with recent-onset tics (mean 3.47 months prior to the first study visit; baseline) and re-examined each child at the 12-month anniversary of the first recognized tic (follow-up). At the baseline visit, children performed a tic suppression task with several conditions: tic freely, inhibit tics given a verbal request, and inhibit tics in the presence of a reward. At the baseline visit, children with tics for only a few months could suppress their tics, and tic suppression was especially successful when they received an immediate and contingent reward. Additionally, the ability to suppress tics in the presence of a reward predicted tic severity at follow-up. These findings suggest that better inhibitory control of tics within months of tic onset may be an important predictor of future tic symptom outcome.
Keywords: inhibition (psychology); prognosis; provisional tic disorder; tic disorders.