The curse of coprolalia

Quick—what’s the most offensive thing you could say right now?

Whether it’s shit-gargling cunt, faggot cumtits, or something equally inappropriate, your brain’s basal ganglia helped you figure it out almost instantly. And if you didn’t blurt out what you were thinking, you can thank your prefrontal cortex, which plays a role in impulse control. For people with coprolalia, though, something in that neural circuitry has gone awry, and they can’t help letting loose with profane outbursts.

Coprolalia—from the Greek kopros meaning “feces” and lalein meaning “to talk”—is usually associated with Tourette syndrome [1], although it appears in only 10 to 20 percent of Tourette cases. It has also been documented in people with brain injuries from stroke, encephalitis, and cerebral malaria.

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