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Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2016 May;26(5):828-40. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2015.12.033. Epub 2015 Dec 29.

The role of habit in compulsivity.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, New York University, 6 Washington Place, New York, NY 10003, USA; Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom; Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom. Electronic address: claire.gillan@gmail.com.
2
Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom; Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
3
Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom; Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
4
Department of Psychiatry, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Department of Anatomy & Neurosciences, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; The OCD Team, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.
5
Department of Psychiatry, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Abstract

Compulsivity has been recently characterized as a manifestation of an imbalance between the brain׳s goal-directed and habit-learning systems. Habits are perhaps the most fundamental building block of animal learning, and it is therefore unsurprising that there are multiple ways in which the development and execution of habits can be promoted/discouraged. Delineating these neurocognitive routes may be critical to understanding if and how habits contribute to the many faces of compulsivity observed across a range of psychiatric disorders. In this review, we distinguish the contribution of excessive stimulus-response habit learning from that of deficient goal-directed control over action and response inhibition, and discuss the role of stress and anxiety as likely contributors to the transition from goal-directed action to habit. To this end, behavioural, pharmacological, neurobiological and clinical evidence are synthesised and a hypothesis is formulated to capture how habits fit into a model of compulsivity as a trans-diagnostic psychiatric trait.

KEYWORDS:

Compulsivity; Goal-directed; Habit; Learning; OCD

PMID:
26774661
PMCID:
PMC4894125
DOI:
10.1016/j.euroneuro.2015.12.033
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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