About this Research Topic
For a long time, Gilles-de-la-Tourette Syndrome (GTS) has been considered a motor disorder characterized by its dominant features of vocal and motor tics. Neuroscientific research on GTS has accordingly focused on dysfunctional motor and motor control brain networks, most prominently the frontostriatal circuitry.
Some of the most prominent features of GTS are, however, inherently social by nature, most notably echophenomena, coprolalia or non-obscene socially inappropriate behaviors. Echophenomena refer to automatic imitative behavior and include both echopraxia, repetition of actions; and echolalia, repetition of sounds and language. Although these symptoms are not defining features of GTS, about 30% of persons with GTS show echopraxia or echolalia. In addition, the majority of patients attending specialist clinics report experiencing some form of egodystonic socially inappropriate urge (e.g. to utter insulting remarks or perform other socially disruptive actions). Despite the relatively high prevalence of characteristics such as echophenomena, historically there has been very little research into these phenomena and, more generally, about the social aspects of GTS.
This Research Topic will focus on research that fills this gap in knowledge and investigates the social side of GTS and other neuropsychiatric disorders. The issue should bring together work that investigates echophenomena, coprolalia or other socially inappropriate behavior, their environmental determinants and neural, cognitive and affective underpinnings. This includes research examining social cognition and empathy from a more general perspective.
As echophenomena occur in neurological and psychiatric disorders other than GTS, including Autism Spectrum Disorder, (fronto-temporal) dementia and schizophrenia, research that deals with this symptomatology in other psychiatric entities is also welcome. Social neuroscience research on imitative or unintended disruptive social behavior with a theoretical or methodological framework which might inform our understanding of these features across a range of disorders, will also be considered.
Keywords: tics, mirroring, mentalizing, echophenomena
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