Child and Adolescent Psychopathology


Neurophysiology of cognitive control functions in OCD

The neuro-biological basis of obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) is not fully understood yet. Comprehensive research results suggest that cortico-striato-thalamo circuits are affected (Melloni et al., 2012; Menzies et al., 2008; Saxena, Brody, Schwartz, & Baxter, 1998). With regard to the relevance of the cortico-striato-thalamo circuits in OCD the importance of the dopaminergic system for the neuropathology of OCD gets more into focus and is investigated in our OCD-Study. Dopamine plays an important role in the modulation of cognitive control. The dopaminergic modulation of cognitive control is based on two antagonistic sub-processes. While stability describes the ability to maintain contents and goals in working memory and shielding them from competing stimuli, flexibility describes the ability to switch between memory contents and goals thus being able to take unexpected information into account (Durstewitz & Seamans, 2008; Goschke, 2000). In order to behave adequately in every-day situations a balance between these two processes which are mediated via different dopaminergic systems is necessary (Cools & D’Esposito, 2010; Durstewitz & Seamans, 2008).

Against this backdrop we would like to investigate to what extent OCD involves impairments in cognitive control and anticipatory processes. We would like to investigate neural and behavioral correlates of affected and healthy children and teenagers between the ages of 11-17 years. The study comprises of one appointment for an EEG recording, when also some performance tests as well as some disorder specific pre-tests will be carried out.