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Depress Anxiety. 2010 Apr;27(4):372-80. doi: 10.1002/da.20638.

Neuropsychological performance in childhood OCD: a preliminary study.

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Department of Psychology, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Neuropsychological deficits have often been found in studies of adults with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). However, few studies have examined such impairment in children with OCD and of those studies published, the results are mixed.


In the present study, 14 OCD children were compared to 24 healthy developing children of similar age and intellectual ability on a series of neuropsychological tests that assess response inhibition, abstract reasoning and problem solving, planning ability, verbal and nonverbal fluency, working memory, attention and information processing speed, and visual and verbal memory and learning.


No significant differences emerged between the children with OCD and healthy controls for working memory, verbal fluency, attention, information processing speed, concept formation/abstraction, and response inhibition. We observed some deficits and a trend toward performance differences between the groups for psychomotor speed and attention, cognitive flexibility, nonverbal fluency, planning ability, and verbal memory and learning. Results are partially consistent with those found in adults with OCD. Findings were not related to depressive symptoms or self-report feeling of anxiety.


This preliminary survey indicates that OCD children may have deficits for cognitive flexibility and planning ability and differ from adults with OCD in not presenting with poor response inhibition or memory deficits. Larger, multi-site studies are warranted to help delineate the neurocognitive deficits associated with childhood OCD.

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