Neural correlates of obsessive-compulsive related dysfunctional beliefs

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2013 Dec 2:47:25-32. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2013.07.016. Epub 2013 Aug 2.


There have been few attempts to integrate neurobiological and cognitive models of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), although this might constitute a key approach to clarify the complex etiology of the disorder. Our study aimed to explore the neural correlates underlying dysfunctional beliefs hypothesized by cognitive models to be involved in the development and maintenance of OCD. We obtained a high-resolution magnetic resonance image from fifty OCD patients and 30 healthy controls, and correlated them, voxel-wise, with the severity of OC-related dysfunctional beliefs assessed by the Obsessive Beliefs Questionnaire-44. In healthy controls, significant negative correlations were observed between anterior temporal lobe (ATL) volume and scores on perfectionism/intolerance of uncertainty and overimportance/need to control thoughts. No significant correlations between OBQ-44 domains and regional gray matter volumes were observed in OCD patients. A post-hoc region-of-interest analysis detected that the ATLs was bilaterally smaller in OCD patients. On splitting subjects into high- and low-belief subgroups, we observed that such brain structural differences between OCD patients and healthy controls were explained by significantly larger ATL volumes among healthy subjects from the low-belief subgroup. Our results suggest a significant correlation between OC-related dysfunctional beliefs and morphometric variability in the anterior temporal lobe, a brain structure related to socio-emotional processing. Future studies should address the interaction of these correlations with environmental factors to fully characterize the bases of OC-related dysfunctional beliefs and to advance in the integration of biological and cognitive models of OCD.

Keywords: ATL; Anterior temporal lobe; Anteriotemporal lobe; CSF; Cerebro-spinal fluid; Cognition; HDRS; Hamilton Depression Rating Scale; MRI; Magnetic resonance image; OBQ; OC; OCD; OFC; Obsessive Beliefs Questionnaire; Obsessive–compulsive; Obsessive–compulsive disorder; Obsessive–compulsive-related dysfunctional beliefs; Orbito-frontal cortex; ROI; Region of interest; SPM; Statistical parametric mapping; VBM; Voxel based morphometry; Y-BOCS; Yale–Brown Obsessive–Compulsive Scale.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Culture*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder* / etiology
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder* / psychology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology*
  • Young Adult