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Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2006 Nov-Dec;40(11-12):1031-8.

Executive functions in obsessive-compulsive disorder: state or trait deficits?

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  • 1Brain and Behaviour Research Institute, School of Psychology, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, and Department of Psychological Medicine, Westmead Hospital, Sydney, Australia. shelley@app-practice.com

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Despite the neuropsychology literature providing reliable evidence of impaired executive functions in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), to date it has not been determined whether these deficits are trait-related (independent of symptomatology) or state-dependent (dependent on symptomatology). The current research examines the executive functions in OCD in a comprehensive manner and, for the first time, assesses the stability of these deficits over the developmental course of the disorder.

METHOD:

Using a cross-sectional design, Study 1 examined the executive functions (set shifting, inhibition, planning, verbal fluency and working memory) in 60 subjects (20 actively Symptomatic OCD, 20 Remitted OCD and 20 Panic Disorder). Using a longitudinal design, Study 2 reassessed a subsample of OCD subjects (participants in Study 1) once they reached remitted status.

RESULTS:

Study 1 found that the OCD groups exhibited deficits in set shifting and inhibition relative to Panic Disorder controls; however, no deficits were observed in planning, verbal fluency or working memory. There were no differences found between the Symptomatic and Remitted OCD groups on any of the executive function measures. Study 2 found that the identified executive function deficits in individuals were stable over time and remained unchanged despite symptom remittance.

CONCLUSION:

Current results confirm the presence of specific executive function deficits in OCD, and indicate that these deficits are trait-like in nature.

PMID:
17054573
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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