Interoception and Premonitory Urges in Children and Adolescents With Tic Disorders


  • Christina Schütteler Orcid
  • Katrin Woitecki
  • Manfred Döpfner Orcid
  • Alexander L. Gerlach Orcid


Background: Compared to healthy controls (HCs), adult Tic Disorder (TD) patients exhibit a lower interoceptive accuracy (IAcc) in heartbeat perception. Since the lower IAcc is not evident in children, the age at which tics develop, but in adults only (Pile et al., 2018,, lower IAcc may reflect a pathological mechanism relevant with regard to tics, premonitory urges (PUs) or the resulting impairment. Although tics are a motor phenomenon, up to date, IAcc has been assessed only with a heartbeat-counting task. This study aims at comparing cardiac and muscular IAcc using two different paradigms and investigates how IAcc is related to premonitory urges in youth. Method: Interoceptive measures (heartbeat-counting task, muscle tension paradigm) of 28 youth with TD were compared to 23 control participants and related to self-rated premonitory urges and tic symptoms. Results: TD patients did not differ from HCs in any IAcc measures. However, within TD patients, IAcc explained additional variance in PUs when controlling for tic severity. Muscular IAcc in TD patients is related to urges and tics, but the direction of this association is unclear. IAcc is lower in TD patients than in HCs, indicating imprecise sensory input which is more easily overcome by priors within the predictive coding framework. Conclusions: Muscle tension feedback tasks could extend interoceptive trainings aimed at improving IAcc to improve accuracy of urge perception (more precise sensory input) to foster the ability to control tics via HRT. Longitudinal studies could provide further insights in causal relationships between IAcc, premonitory urges and tics.