By On July 18th, 2008

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Susceptibility Predicted by Brain Activity

MedPage Today Crystal Phend reports that researchers conducting a study at the University of Cambridge found that individuals with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and their unaffected first-degree relatives, had different brain activity when compared to those without a family history of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

The study involved 14 individual’s suffering from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, 12 of their relatives, and 15 people without a history of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Their brains were monitored while working on “a task designed to make them learn a task one way and then, after negative feedback, to learn the reverse, which should have activated the neural region that facilitates behavioral flexibility.” Phend reports that Samuel R. Chamberlain, PhD and colleagues found:

…that while working out solutions to these tasks, patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder and their unaffected relatives had less activation than did controls bilaterally in regions including the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, the lateral prefrontal cortex, and the left parietal cortex.

While learning the reverse, the differences between obsessive- compulsive disorder patients and their relatives compared with controls became significant.

When grouped into clusters, the findings for obsessive-compulsive disorder patients and their relatives compared with controls, respectively, included:

• Underactivation in the left lateral orbitofrontal cortex and left lateral prefrontal cortex (P<0.001 for both)
• Reduced activity in the right lateral orbitofrontal cortex and right lateral prefrontal cortex (P<0.01 for patients and P<0.05 for relatives)
• Lower activation of the left parietal lobe (P<0.05 for both)
• Reduced activation in the right parietal lobe (P<0.01 for both)

Chamberlain SR, et al “Orbitofrontal dysfunction in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder and their unaffected relatives” Science 2008; 321: 421-422.

Click here to read the full article in MedPage Today

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