It has recently been reported that prestimulus electroencephalogram (EEG) frontal theta and occipital alpha oscillations of healthy controls were modulated by the type of upcoming tasks, reflecting prestimulus top-down preparation. The present study explored the differences in dynamics of frontal theta and occipital alpha activities between obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) patients and healthy participants in terms of reflection of prestimulus top-down regulation. EEGs were recorded from 16 OCD patients and 16 healthy controls using a color and a shape discrimination task. The power and time course of oscillatory activity were calculated by convolving the EEG signals with Morlet wavelets. Although OCD patients yielded significantly lower total alpha and total theta power results than the normal controls, they demonstrated that significantly higher total alpha and total theta power preceded the difficult task (shape-task) as compared to the easy task (color-task). Furthermore, the frontal region, where OCD patients usually revealed abnormalities, showed significant differences in the prestimulus total theta power between the normal and OCD groups. Taken together, frontal theta and occipital alpha oscillations seem to be potent electrophysiological correlates reflecting impairment in the prestimulus top-down processing of OCD patients.
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