Brain Networks Dysfunctional in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

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In patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC)has significantly increased modulation of the cortical, striatal, and thalamic regions during working memory, regardless of demand.

The findings, published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, demonstrate the differences in brain connectivity and communication in people with the disorder.

Researchers used fMRI to monitor the brain responses of 18 participants with OCD and 27 controls who engaged in a working memory task during imaging. In both groups, an increase in memory load resulted in increased recruitment of frontal and parietal regions and the dACC. The frontal, striatal, and thalamic circuits showed increased activation in OCD at each level of memory load, with dysfunctional activation in the frontal and parietal cortices and in the dACC and no dysfunction in the striatum or thalamus. Notably, dysfunction in the activation profiles scaled with memory load.

The researchers also noted that dysfunctional network profiles in OCD patients form a pattern that is distinct and complimentary to those observed in activation profiles. The degree of dACC modulation doesn’t seem to scale with load.

Overall, OCD appears to be characterized by dysfunction in core FSTC regions, and that deficits of FSTC regions are a core pathophysiologic mechanism behind OCD affecting the frontal, striatal, and thalamic circuits.

The researchers hope that this confirmation of mechanism will help to improve pathways toward treatment of OCD. 

OCD
Brain Networks Dysfunctional in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Brain network dysfunction is emerging as a central biomarker of interest in psychiatry, in large part, because psychiatric conditions are increasingly seen as disconnection syndromes. Understanding dysfunctional brain network profiles in task-active states provides important information on network engagement in an experimental context. This in turn may be predictive of many of the cognitive and behavioral deficits associated with complex behavioral phenotypes.

Here we investigated brain network profiles in youth with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), contrasting them with a group of age-comparable controls. Network interactions were assessed during simple working memory: in particular, we focused on the modulation by the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) of cortical, striatal, and thalamic regions.

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