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Neurocognitive indices of executive hypercontrol in obsessive–compulsive disorder


Paola Bucci, Department of Psychiatry, University of Naples SUN, Largo Madonna delle Grazie, 80138, Naples, Italy.


Objective:  Cognitive impairment, more often involving memory and/or executive functions, has been reported in obsessive–compulsive (OC) patients. The present study aimed at: i) replicating, in an independent sample, previous findings by our group showing neurocognitive slowness limited to executive tasks; ii) assessing the influence of deficit in general cognitive abilities on executive dysfunction.

Method:  A comprehensive neuropsychological battery was administered to 30 drug-free OC patients and 30 healthy controls.

Results:  Obsessive–compulsive patients performed worse on visuospatial tests, were slower on executive tasks, and performed worse on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test. After covarying for Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised performance Intellectual Quotient, a lesser degree of executive dysfunction was observed.

Conclusion:  Obsessive–compulsive patients exhibit an impairment of executive functions, especially when tasks also require visuospatial abilities. The impairment might reflect a hyperactivity of the executive control.