Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) are frequently co-morbid, and dysfunctional frontal-striatal circuits have been implicated in both disorders. Neurobiological distinctions between OCD and MDD are insufficiently clear, and comparative neuroimaging studies are extremely scarce. OCD and MDD may be characterized by cognitive rigidity at the phenotype level, and frontal-striatal brain circuits constitute the neural substrate of intact cognitive flexibility. In the present study, 18 non-medicated MDD-free patients with OCD, 19 non-medicated OCD-free patients with MDD, and 29 matched healthy controls underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging during performance of a self-paced letter/digit task switching paradigm. Results showed that both patient groups responded slower relative to controls during repeat events, but only in OCD patients slowing was associated with decreased error rates. During switching, patients with OCD showed increased activation of the putamen, anterior cingulate and insula, whereas MDD patients recruited inferior parietal cortex and precuneus to a lesser extent. Patients with OCD and MDD commonly failed to reveal anterior prefrontal cortex activation during switching. This study shows subtle behavioral abnormalities on a measure of cognitive flexibility in MDD and OCD, associated with differential frontal-striatal brain dysfunction in both disorders. These findings may add to the development of biological markers that more precisely characterize frequently co-morbid neuropsychiatric disorders such as OCD and MDD.

dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0059600, hdl.handle.net/1765/40192
PLoS ONE
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Remijnse, P.L, Heuvel, O.A, Nielen, M.M.A, Vriend, C, Hendriks, G.J, Hoogendijk, W.J.G, … Veltman, D.J. (2013). Cognitive Inflexibility in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Major Depression Is Associated with Distinct Neural Correlates. PLoS ONE, 8(4). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059600