Stereotypies may be defined as regular repeated movements, which are voluntary but not apparently goal-directed, and which may be carried out in a uniform pattern for long periods of time (cf. tic). Whole areas of the body may be involved by stereotypies and hence this movement is more complex than a tic.
Stereotypies are common in patients with learning disability and schizophrenia. Very characteristic manual stereotypies (washing, rubbing movements: "hand washing") may be seen in Rett’s disease. The term has also been used to describe movements associated with chronic neuroleptic use; indeed adult-onset stereotypy is highly suggestive of prior exposure to dopamine receptor blocking drugs.
Verbal stereotypies are reiterated words or syllables produced by patients with profound nonfluent aphasia (e.g., Broca’s original case, Leborgne, who could only repeat "tan, tan, tan", by which name he was known).
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