A computerized neuropsychological evaluation of cognitive functions in a subclinical obsessive-compulsive sample

J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 2018 Jun;59:142-149. doi: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2018.01.004. Epub 2018 Jan 17.


Background and objectives: Ample research in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) reveals a moderate degree of underperformance on various neuropsychological tasks. Less is known about neuropsychological function in subclinical obsessive-compulsive (OC) samples. Most analogue OCD studies did not use a comprehensive neuropsychological battery and none utilized a fully computerized battery. To fill this gap in the literature, the present study aimed at assessing cognitive functions in a subclinical OC sample using a validated computerized neuropsychological battery.

Methods: Initially, a sample of 165 students completed the Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory-Revised (OCI-R). Using a psychometrically valid methodology, a high OC (HOC, n = 29) and low OC (LOC, n = 29) groups were selected based on scores in the upper and lower quartiles on the OCI-R. The two groups completed the NeuroTrax computerized neuropsychological battery and clinical questionnaires.

Results: Although the HOC group underperformed on most outcome measures, controlling for state-anxiety and depression symptoms, no significant differences were found on major domains (i.e., memory, attention, executive functions, processing speed, visuospatial functions, verbal functions, and motor skills), and subdomains. Normalized scores, produced using population norms, indicated that both groups performed within the normative range.

Limitations: Not all neuropsychological subdomains were assessed.

Conclusions: Results are consistent with the general picture in analogue OC samples, and may be more reliable than paper-pencil testing, given that a full computerized neuropsychological battery minimizes examiner-examinee interactions, and increases timing accuracy. In sum, analogue OC samples, characterized by equivalent symptom severity but high functioning compared to OCD samples, do not present with cognitive deficits.

Keywords: Analogue sample; Computerized; Neuropsychological assessment; OCD; Subclinical.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnosis*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / etiology
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / complications
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Young Adult