Meta-analytic investigations of structural grey matter, executive domain-related functional activations, and white matter diffusivity in obsessive compulsive disorder: an integrative review

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2015 May;52:233-57. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2015.03.002. Epub 2015 Mar 10.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a debilitating disorder. However, existing neuroimaging findings involving executive function and structural abnormalities in OCD have been mixed. Here we conducted meta-analyses to investigate differences in OCD samples and controls in: Study 1 - grey matter structure; Study 2 - executive function task-related activations during (i) response inhibition, (ii) interference, and (iii) switching tasks; and Study 3 - white matter diffusivity. Results showed grey matter differences in the frontal, striatal, thalamus, parietal and cerebellar regions; task domain-specific neural differences in similar regions; and abnormal diffusivity in major white matter regions in OCD samples compared to controls. Our results reported concurrence of abnormal white matter diffusivity with corresponding abnormalities in grey matter and task-related functional activations. Our findings suggested the involvement of other brain regions not included in the cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical network, such as the cerebellum and parietal cortex, and questioned the involvement of the orbitofrontal region in OCD pathophysiology. Future research is needed to clarify the roles of these brain regions in the disorder.

Keywords: Activation-likelihood estimation (ALE); Cortical–striato–thalamo–cortical network; Executive function; Inhibition; Meta-analysis; Neuroimaging; Obsessive–compulsive disorder; Sub-cortical.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Gray Matter / pathology
  • Humans
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / complications*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / pathology*
  • White Matter / pathology