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Study: Tourette's provides advantage in some skills

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Scientists are finding that people with Tourette's Syndrome may actually have an advantage when it comes to certain skills. Those who suffer from Tourette's learn to get used to the physical and vocal tics that others often view as faux pas, but the sudden or repetitive motions and sounds are involuntary. Researchers at Georgetown University and the Kennedy Krieger institute tested children with and without Tourette's Syndrome. They found that kids with Tourette's were just as accurate as other kids at certain skills, but quicker. Fourteen-year-old Andrew Youngen visits classrooms to explain that his sudden or repetitive motions and sounds are involuntary. Andrew Youngen said, "Don't tease because that just makes it worse, and don't remind me about it because then I'll start thinking about it and then I'll do my tics." Andrew also participated in a study to find out if the neurological disorder affects the brain in other ways. Researchers at Georgetown University and the Kennedy Krieger Institute tested children with and without Tourette's Syndrome. They designed tasks that use the same brain areas affected by Tourette's, such as applying the rules of grammar. They wrote in the journal "Neuropsychologia" that kids with Tourette's were just as accurate as other kids at those skills, but quicker. Neuroscientist Michael Ullman hopes their research will change our view of such disorders. Ullman said, "It seems to me that this finding can be thought of as positive and encouraging in the sense that it's not a disorder, associated just with problems, but also with advantages, potentially." Ullman says early results in similar studies of autism suggest that disorder may bring advantages in other types of mental skills. For more information visit www.sciencentral.com.

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