While abnormal processing of performance feedback has been associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), neural responses to different kinds of feedback information, especially to ambiguous feedback are widely unknown. Using fMRI and a performance adaptive time-estimation task, we acquired blood oxygenation level-dependant responses and emotional ratings to positive, negative and ambiguous performance feedback in patients and healthy controls. Negative and ambiguous feedback led to increased levels of anxiety, guilt and shame in patients. Both negative and ambiguous feedback, as compared to positive feedback, induced increased activation of the insular cortex in patients. Furthermore, patients showed no differential activation to negative feedback in the putamen and to ambiguous feedback in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC). Finally, negative feedback induced increased activation in the midcingulate cortex in patients compared to controls. Findings indicate that both negative and ambiguous performance feedbacks are associated with abnormal negative emotions and altered brain activation, in particular increased insula activation, while activation in the putamen and VMPFC does not differentiate between feedback types in OCD patients. This suggests a parallel pattern of increased and decreased neural sensitivity to different kinds of feedback information and a general emotional hyperresponsivity to negative and ambiguous performance feedback in OCD.
Keywords: ambiguity; emotion; feedback processing; neuroimaging; obsessive–compulsive disorder; performance monitoring.
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