Selective attention deficits in obsessive-compulsive disorder: the role of metacognitive processes

Psychiatry Res. 2015 Feb 28;225(3):550-5. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2014.11.049. Epub 2014 Dec 5.


While initial studies supported the hypothesis that cognitive characteristics that capture cognitive resources act as underlying mechanisms in memory deficits in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the influence of those characteristics on selective attention has not been studied, yet. In this study, we examined the influence of cognitive self-consciousness (CSC), rumination and worrying on performance in selective attention in OCD and compared the results to a depressive and a healthy control group. We found that 36 OCD and 36 depressive participants were impaired in selective attention in comparison to 36 healthy controls. In all groups, hierarchical regression analyses demonstrated that age, intelligence and years in school significantly predicted performance in selective attention. But only in OCD, the predictive power of the regression model was improved when CSC, rumination and worrying were implemented as predictor variables. In contrast, in none of the three groups the predictive power improved when indicators of severity of obsessive-compulsive (OC) and depressive symptoms and trait anxiety were introduced as predictor variables. Thus, our results support the assumption that mental characteristics that bind cognitive resources play an important role in the understanding of selective attention deficits in OCD and that this mechanism is especially relevant for OCD.

Keywords: Cognitive self-consciousness; Metacognition; Rumination; Selective attention; Worrying.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Awareness*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / diagnosis
  • Memory Disorders / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / psychology*
  • Personality Assessment