Software for web-based tic suppression training

Jonathan K. Black, Kevin J. Black
  • F1000Research, December 2017, Faculty of 1000, Ltd.
  • DOI: 10.12688/f1000research.13460.1

TicTrainer web software for tic suppression training

What is it about?

This manuscript describes the software used to run TicTrainer, an online resource meant to help people build their ability to fight tics. It is designed to give points on the screen of a computer (or tablet or smart phone), with points building faster the longer someone suppresses tics. Another person on their own device watches for tics and taps a button to tell the computer when the tics occur.

Why is it important?

ERP (Exposure and Response Prevention) is a method previously used to treat Tourette’s syndrome. The idea behind ERP is that by suppressing tics for a very long time, eventually the urge to tic will fade away. It is usually done with a trained psychologist over the course of about ten 90-minute behavior therapy sessions. ERP is not just an interesting idea, it works. ERP was compared to the best-proven behavior therapy for tics (CBIT) in a randomized controlled trial, and both were similarly effective. Unfortunately, although three fourths of parents would like behavior therapy available to their children with tics, many do not have access to an appropriately trained therapist. The hope with TicTrainer is that it can be useful to people who cannot easily get to such a therapist, like people we see from rural areas a couple of hundred miles from here. Other experts have built more complex systems (like the commercial site We are also interested from a scientific standpoint to know whether TicTrainer, which focuses only and directly on tic suppression, can be effective--i.e., can tic suppression training itself reproduce benefits of more complete therapy?


Dr Kevin J. Black
Washington University in St. Louis

It was cool to work on this with Jonathan. He did all the computer development stuff. I provided the main idea. The software is freely available so others can improve on it. Supported by Dad's Idle Hands Reduction Fund. :)

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Kevin J. Black