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Biol Psychol. 2012 Feb;89(2):487-94. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2011.12.018. Epub 2012 Jan 5.

Error-related negativity in individuals with obsessive-compulsive symptoms: toward an understanding of hoarding behaviors.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.


The error-related negativity (ERN), an event-related potential component elicited by error responses in cognitive tasks, has been shown to be abnormal in most, but not all, studies of obsessive-compulsive disorder or obsessive-compulsive symptoms (OCD/S); these inconsistencies may be due to task selection, symptom subtype, or both. We used meta-analysis to further characterize the ERN in OCD/S, and pooled data across studies to examine the ERN in OCD/S with hoarding. We found an enhanced ERN in OCD/S relative to controls, as well as heterogeneity across tasks. When stratified, OCD/S showed a significantly enhanced ERN only in response conflict tasks. However, OCD/S+hoarding showed a marginally larger ERN than OCD/S-hoarding, but only for probabilistic learning tasks. These results suggest that abnormal ERN in OCD/S is task-dependent, and that OCD/S+hoarding show different ERN activity from OCD/S-hoarding perhaps suggesting different pathophysiological mechanisms of error monitoring.

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