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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 Psychiatry/Psychology.
Robertson Article: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, tics and Tourette's syndrome: the relationship and treatment implications. A commentary
Article: Robertson, MM
Journal: EUR CHILD ADOLESC PSYCHIATR, 15 (1): 1-11 FEB 2006
Addresses: Univ Coll London, Dept Mental Hlth Sci, 2nd Floor,Wolfson Bldg,48 Riding House St, London W1W 7EY, England.
Univ Coll London, Dept Mental Hlth Sci, London W1W 7EY, England.

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 future?

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 your research?

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 times.

A couple of examples include: Robertson MM Trimble & Lees "The psychopathology of the Gilles de La Tourette Syndrome: a phenomenological analysis," Br J Psych [152], 383-390, 1988 (cited 149 times).

Robertson MM "The Gilles de al Tourette Syndrome: the current status." Br J Psych [154] 147-169, 1989 (cited 184 times).

Robertson MM INVITED REVIEW. "Tourette syndrome, associated conditions and the complexity of treatment" Brain, [123] 425-462 (2000) (cited 115 times).

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 field.

Would you summarize the significance of your paper in layman’s terms?

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, FRCPsych
Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychiatry
Royal Free and University College Medical School (RF&UCMS)
Department of Mental Health Sciences
University College of London
Bloomsbury Campus
London, UK
Visiting Professor & Honorary Consultant Neuropsychiatrist
St. George’s University of London (SGUL)
London, UK
Honorary Medical Advisor, Tourette’s Syndrome Associations/Foundations
(UK, Canada, Germany, Italy, & Ireland)



2008 : February 2008 : Mary M. Robertson