EMERGING RESEARCH FRONTS
Mary M. Robertson talks with
ScienceWatch.com and answers a few questions about
this month's Emerging Research Front in the field of
Article: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,
tics and Tourette's syndrome: the relationship and
treatment implications. A commentary
Journal: EUR CHILD ADOLESC PSYCHIATR, 15 (1): 1-11 FEB
Addresses: Univ Coll London, Dept Mental Hlth Sci, 2nd
Floor,Wolfson Bldg,48 Riding House St, London W1W 7EY,
Univ Coll London, Dept Mental Hlth Sci, London W1W 7EY,
How did you become involved in this research, and
were there any particular problems encountered along the way?
I became involved in the research of Tourette’s syndrome way back in
1980 and there were several problems I encountered. Firstly, in those days,
it was thought to be a bizarre, rare, and psychologically mediated
disorder. Thus, for many years, I had no personal funding and even less
research funding. Over time, both the research and the personal funding
increased, but I felt I always had to fight for my choices.
Where do you see your research leading in the
I have now authored over 300 academic papers, chapters, reviews etc. On a
PubMed search undertaken on the 28th of January, 2008, I have published 107
peer-reviewed papers on Tourette syndrome alone, which makes me an
international leader in the field. I thus will continue my research in all
aspects of Tourette Syndrome.
Do you foresee any social or political implications for
I have just had a paper accepted which indicates that Tourette Syndrome
affects 1% of the population—Robertson MM "The Epidemiology of
Tourette syndrome," Journal of Psychosomatic Research (in press)
(2008). This is what I see as a social or political implication. It has
always been thought to be a rare disorder, but I am sure you will
understand that 1% is indeed common.
Why do you think your paper is highly cited?
I suspect my paper is highly cited because it is relevant in the field, and
I am an acknowledged international authority. The following articles have
also, according to the Thomson Science Citation Index, been cited many
A couple of examples include: Robertson MM Trimble & Lees "The
psychopathology of the Gilles de La Tourette Syndrome: a phenomenological
analysis," Br J Psych , 383-390, 1988 (cited 149 times).
Robertson MM "The Gilles de al Tourette Syndrome: the current status."
Br J Psych  147-169, 1989 (cited 184 times).
Robertson MM INVITED REVIEW. "Tourette syndrome, associated conditions and
the complexity of treatment" Brain,  425-462 (2000) (cited
Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or
synthesis of knowledge?
My paper is not a new discovery, but is a synthesis and broad review of the
Would you summarize the significance of your paper in
In lay terms, I think that Tourette Syndrome and Attention Deficit Disorder
(ADD) occur commonly together. I think they have a complex relationship. It
think the treatment for the two disorders is now less complex that it was
before, and the main statement is that stimulants do not necessarily
produce tics or an increase of tics in people with Tourette Syndrome.
Mary M. Robertson, MBChB, MD, DSc (Med), DPM, FRCP (UK), FRCPCH,
Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychiatry
Royal Free and University College Medical School (RF&UCMS)
Department of Mental Health Sciences
University College of London
Visiting Professor & Honorary Consultant Neuropsychiatrist
St. George’s University of London (SGUL)
Honorary Medical Advisor, Tourette’s Syndrome
(UK, Canada, Germany, Italy, & Ireland)