The involvement of the orbitofrontal cortex in psychiatric disorders: an update of neuroimaging findings

Braz J Psychiatry. 2012 Jun;34(2):207-12. doi: 10.1590/s1516-44462012000200014.


Objective: To report structural and functional neuroimaging studies exploring the potential role of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) in the pathophysiology of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders (PD).

Method: A non-systematic literature review was conducted by means of MEDLINE using the following terms as parameters: "orbitofrontal cortex", "schizophrenia", "bipolar disorder", "major depression", "anxiety disorders", "personality disorders" and "drug addiction". The electronic search was done up to July 2011.

Discussion: Structural and functional OFC abnormalities have been reported in many PD, namely schizophrenia, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders and drug addiction. Structural magnetic resonance imaging studies have reported reduced OFC volume in patients with schizophrenia, mood disorders, PTSD, panic disorder, cluster B personality disorders and drug addiction. Furthermore, functional magnetic resonance imaging studies using cognitive paradigms have shown impaired OFC activity in all PD listed above.

Conclusion: Neuroimaging studies have observed an important OFC involvement in a number of PD. However, future studies are clearly needed to characterize the specific role of OFC on each PD as well as understanding its role in both normal and pathological behavior, mood regulation and cognitive functioning.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Frontal Lobe / pathology*
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / pathology*
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Neuroimaging*