Brain activation in paediatric obsessive compulsive disorder during tasks of inhibitory control

Br J Psychiatry. 2008 Jan;192(1):25-31. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.107.036558.


Background: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may be related to a dysfunction in frontostriatal pathways mediating inhibitory control. However, no functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study has tested this in children.

Aims: To test whether adolescents with OCD in partial remission would show abnormal frontostriatal brain activation during tasks of inhibition.

Method: Event-related fMRI was used to compare brain activation in 10 adolescent boys with OCD with that of 9 matched controls during three different tasks of inhibitory control.

Results: During a 'stop' task, participants with OCD showed reduced activation in right orbitofrontal cortex, thalamus and basal ganglia; inhibition failure elicited mesial frontal underactivation. Task switching and interference inhibition were associated with attenuated activation in frontal, temporoparietal and cerebellar regions.

Conclusions: These preliminary findings support the hypothesis that paediatric OCD is characterised by a dysregulation of frontostriatothalamic brain regions necessary for motor inhibition, and also demonstrate dysfunction of temporoparietal and frontocerebellar attention networks during more cognitive forms of inhibition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Thalamus / physiopathology*