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Published June 8, 2022 | Published + Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Neurocircuit dynamics of arbitration between decision-making strategies across obsessive-compulsive and related disorders


Obsessions and compulsions are central components of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) and obsessive–compulsive related disorders such as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). Compulsive behaviours may result from an imbalance of habitual and goal-directed decision-making strategies. The relationship between these symptoms and the neural circuitry underlying habitual and goal-directed decision-making, and the arbitration between these strategies, remains unknown. This study examined resting state effective connectivity between nodes of these systems in two cohorts with obsessions and compulsions, each compared with their own corresponding healthy controls: OCD (nOCD = 43; nhealthy = 24) and BDD (nBDD = 21; nhealthy = 16). In individuals with OCD, the left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, a node of the arbitration system, exhibited more inhibitory causal influence over the left posterolateral putamen, a node of the habitual system, compared with controls. Inhibitory causal influence in this connection showed a trend for a similar pattern in individuals with BDD compared with controls. Those with stronger negative connectivity had lower obsession and compulsion severity in both those with OCD and those with BDD. These relationships were not evident within the habitual or goal-directed circuits, nor were they associated with depressive or anxious symptomatology. These results suggest that abnormalities in the arbitration system may represent a shared neural phenotype across these two related disorders that is specific to obsessive–compulsive symptoms. In addition to nosological implications, these results identify potential targets for novel, circuit-specific treatments.

Additional Information

© 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Received 5 March 2022, Revised 11 May 2022, Accepted 31 May 2022, Available online 4 June 2022, Version of Record 8 June 2022. This work was funded by NIMH grants R01MH085900 (JO and JF), R21MH110865 (JF), R01MH121520 (JF), K23MH116117 (RT), and R01MH121089 (RT) and the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation grant NARSAD-27111 (RT). The authors would like to thank the participants for their time. Author contributions: DS: Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal analysis, Investigation, Visualization, Writing - original draft, Writing - review & editing. RT: Conceptualization, Funding acquisition, Investigation, Supervision, Writing - review & editing. WW: Conceptualization, Methodology, Software, Supervision, Writing - review & editing. JO'N: Funding acquisition, Writing - review & editing. JC: Writing - review & editing. AB: Writing - review & editing. JO'D: Conceptualization, Writing - review & editing. JF: Conceptualization, Funding acquisition, Investigation, Resources, Supervision, Writing - review & editing. All authors gave final approval and agree to be accountable to all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. The authors declare the following financial interests/personal relationships which may be considered as potential competing interests: JF has received consultant fees from NOCD, Inc. All other authors have nothing to disclose.

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Published - 1-s2.0-S2213158222001383-main.pdf

Supplemental Material - 1-s2.0-S2213158222001383-mmc1.docx


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August 22, 2023
October 24, 2023