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Glossary of Terms Related to Tourette Syndrome

Akathisia - Inability to be still; a feeling of inner restlessness. A possible side effect of neuroleptic medications

Antidepressant - A prescription drug that relieves or minimizes depression

Arithmomania - Compulsive mental counting

Associated behaviors - The spectrum of behaviors sometimes seen in association with Tourette Syndrome; include OCD, ADHD, and poor impulse control

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) - A neurobiological disorder causing distractibility and inability to focus attention

Basal ganglia - Structures deep in brainstem that relay messages between the prefrontal cortex and the lower motor and sensory areas

Behavior therapy - Used with OCD and other conditions such as phobias; a person is exposed to anxiety-provoking stimuli while being prevented from performing the ritual or behavior previously used to reduce that anxiety

Bi-polar disorder - Another name for manic-depression, a disorder involving extreme ups and downs in mood

CAT scan - (also known as CT scan) Computerized axial. tomography, a series of computerized X-rays of the brain

Catapres - See clonidine

Central nervous system (CNS) - Refers to voluntary activity of the brain and spinal cord

Chorea - Abrupt, quick, jerky movements of the head, neck, arms, or legs

Chromosomes - Microscopic, rod-shaped bodies in cells which contain genetic material

Clomipramine - An antidepressant medication used in Tourette Syndrome to treat symptoms of OCD

Clonidine (Catapres) - A high blood pressure medication used in treatment of TS. It can be helpful in controlling tics and ADHD symptoms.

Cognitive dulling - A common side effect of neuroleptic drugs; involves short-term memory loss and slowed thinking

Co-morbid condition - Medical term meaning a medical condition that occurs along with another medical condition, although one condition does not directly cause the other

Compulsion - The feeling of being compelled or forced to do a behavior, even though the person experiencing the compulsion does not want to do it. For example, evening things up, washing hands, cleaning

Coprolalia - Involuntary utterances of obscene or inappropriate statements or words

Depression - Disorder producing depressed mood, appetite changes, sleep changes, and sometimes suicidal thinking. Can often be treated with medication

Desipramine - A tricyclic antidepressant used in the treatment of ADHD associated with TS

Developmental disability - A handicap or impairment originating before the age of eighteen which may be expected to continue indefinitely and which constitutes a substantial disability

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) - A manual published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) which describes all of the diagnostic criteria and the systematic descriptions of various mental disorders

Dopamine - One of the neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) involved in motor and vocal tics

Dyskinesia - A general term for involuntary movements

Dyslexia - One type of learning disability that affects reading ability

Echolalia - Involuntary repetition of words or phrases of others

Echopraxia - Copying the gestures of others

Etiology - The study of the cause of a disease or condition

Extrapyramidal effects - Side effects of medications

Fluoxetine (Prozac ) - An antidepressant used in TS to treat OCD and depression

Genes - Material within the chromosomes that determines specific traits, such as hair and eye color and stature

Haloperidol (Haldol) - A neuroleptic medication used to treat TS

Involuntary movements - Actions beyond one's control

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) - A scan of the brain or other part of the body that employs magnetic and low-energy radiowaves. No radioactive materials or dyes are needed

Methylphenidate - A stimulant drug often prescribed for ADHD; can cause increase in tics of TS

Monozygotic twins - Identical twins

Neuroleptic - A class of medications, e.g. haloperidol, pimozide

Neurotransmitter - Any of the chemicals carrying nerve impulses across the synapse (gap) between adjacent neurons (nerve cells)

Norepinephrine - One of the brain's neurotransmitters involved in the formation and function of dopamine and serotonin.

Obsession - An unwanted recurring thought or impulse that is without purpose

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) - When a person has uncontrollable thoughts and compulsive behaviors to an extent that impairs functioning

Orap - See pimozide

Palilalia - Repeating one's own words or phrases

Pimozide - A neuroleptic drug used to help reduce tics of TS

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) - An imaging technique using small amounts of radioactive material that produces a cross-sectional view of specific chemical activities in the brain

Premonitory urges - Sensations immediately preceding an involuntary movement or vocalization

Prozac - See fluoxetine

Remission - A complete absence of symptoms for a period of months to years . . . Sometimes occurs with TS

Ritalin - See methylphenidate

Serotonin - One of the brain's neurotransmitters, believed to be involved in depression and OCD

Side effects - Secondary, unwanted effects of using a medication

Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) - Device which measures brain function through blood flow and glucose metabolism

Stimulant - A psychotrophic drug such as Ritalin and dexedrine often used to control hyperactivity in children

Synapse - The gap between neurons, across which messages are carried by neurotransmitters

Tardive dyskinesia - Involuntary movements of the mouth, tongue, and lips. Some medications prescribed for Tourette Syndrome can contribute to the development of this condition

Tic - An involuntary movement (motor tic) or involuntary vocalization (vocal tic)

Titration - Process of determining how much of a medication is required to produce a desired reaction

Tourette Syndrome - A chronic, physical disorder of the brain which causes both motor tics and vocal tics, and begins before the age of eighteen

Trichotillomania - A compulsion to pull out one's own hair in order to relieve anxiety

Waxing and waning - A naturally occurring increase and decrease in severity and frequency of TS symptoms

Tourettes Our Story
Our Tourette Links
Tourette Tips
Classroom Strategies with Tourettes
Glossary of Terms for Tourettes
F.A.Q. about Tourettes
Simplified Chart for Tic ID
Common Myths about TS
Diag. Criteria for TS