People with OCD Process Emotions Differently Than Their Unaffected Siblings

Posted on May 12, 2018

The study done in in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging has discovered a significant difference in how the brain processes and regulates emotion between patients with OCD and their unaffected siblings, where brain function of people with OCD is a product of currently having the disorder, and unrelated to genetic or familial risk.

In the study, Anders Thorsen, MSc, of Haukeland University Hospital, Norway. and his colleagues compared 43 patients with OCD, 19 unaffected siblings, and 38 unrelated healthy controls. When measuring brain activity, participants viewed pictures to evoke fear or OCD-related symptoms, such as compulsive washing or checking the surrounding environment for potential harm, and thereafter reported their levels of distress.

The results showed that people with OCD and their unaffected siblings had similar brain responses and feelings of distress in response to fearful images as the healthy controls. However, when viewing OCD-related images, patients with OCD had increased distress and higher levels of activity in emotion-related brain regions than healthy participants.

This significant distinction is vital for efforts to identify people at risk for OCD -- a disorder that has strong genetic influences, and future studies could investigate this effect by following families with OCD through development.

Category(s):Obsessions & Compulsions (OCD)

Source material from Science Daily