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Neuropsychology. 2000 Jan;14(1):141-51.

Strategic processing and episodic memory impairment in obsessive compulsive disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown 02129-2060, USA. savage@psych.mgh.harvard.edu


There is evidence that nonverbal memory problems in obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are mediated by impaired strategic processing. Although many studies have found verbal memory to be normal in OCD, these studies did not use tests designed to stress organizational strategies. This study examined verbal and nonverbal memory performance in 33 OCD patients and 30 normal control participants with the Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure Test and the California Verbal Learning Test. OCD patients were impaired on verbal and nonverbal measures of organizational strategy and free recall. Multiple regression modeling indicated that free recall problems in OCD were mediated by impaired organizational strategies used during learning trials. Therefore, verbal and nonverbal episodic memory deficits in OCD are affected by impaired strategic processing. Results are consistent with neurobiological models proposing frontal-striatal system dysfunction in OCD.

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