Tic disorders (TD) and body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRB) have similar phenotypes that can be challenging to distinguish in clinical settings. Both disorders show high rates of comorbid psychiatric conditions, dysfunctional basal ganglia activity, atypical cortical functioning in the prefrontal and motor cortical regions, and cognitive deficits. Clinicians frequently confound the two disorders and it is important to find reliable objective methods to discriminate TD and BFRB. Neuropsychological tests and event-related potential (ERP) studies have yielded inconsistent results regarding a possible context updating deficit in TD and BFRB patients. However, most previous studies did not control for the presence of comorbid psychiatric condition and medication status, which might have confounded the findings reported to date. Hence, we aimed to investigate the psychophysiology of working memory using ERP in carefully screened TD and BFRB patients excluding those with psychiatric comorbidity and those taking psychoactive medication. The current study compared 12 TD patients, 12 BRFB patients, and 15 healthy control participants using a motor oddball task (button press). The P300 component was analyzed as an index of working memory functioning. Results showed that BFRB patients had decreased P300 oddball effect amplitudes over the right hemisphere compared to the TD and control groups. Clinical groups presented different scalp distributions compared to controls, which could represent a potential endophenotype candidate of BFRB and TD.
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