February 06, 2018
1 min read

Cognitive functions do not differ between patients with high, low OCD

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Researchers who conducted a computerized neuropsychological evaluation of cognitive functions found no significant differences in memory, attention, executive functions, processing speed, visuospatial functions, verbal functions and motor skills between analogue high and low OCD samples.

“Results from neuropsychological studies in OCD are grossly inconsistent and effect sizes are, on average, moderate. Less is known about the association between obsessive-compulsive symptoms and neuropsychological test performance in the general population,” Naama Hamo, of the Ruppin Academic Center in Israel, and colleagues wrote. “Relative to neuropsychological studies in clinical OCD samples, there are far fewer neuropsychological investigations in analogue samples. In addition, this literature is more inconsistent than the OCD literature in terms of neuropsychological test performance.”

In this study, researchers examined cognitive functioning among a subclinical obsessive-compulsive sample of 58 college students using a validated computerized neuropsychological battery. With a psychometrically valid methodology, they grouped 29 participants each into the high obsessive compulsive (HOC) group and low obsessive-compulsive (LOC) group based on scores in the upper and lower quartiles on the Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory-Revised. Both groups completed clinical questionnaires and the NeuroTrax computerized neuropsychological battery, which tests a wide range of cognitive domains through interactive computer games.

After controlling for severity of depression symptoms and anxiety, participants in the HOC group performed lower than controls, particularly on memory tasks, but not significantly. Researchers observed no significant differences for the major domains of attention, motor skills and executive functioning, as well as small effect sizes for verbal function, processing speed, and visuospatial functions, between groups. Furthermore, both groups’ performance on all cognitive outcomes measures were in the normal range when compared with test norms. Although all above-mentioned differences were insignificant, the largest effect size suggested the HOC group may have underperformed in the memory domain (medium magnitude).

“This study adds to the recent literature in OCD, suggesting that neuropsychological performance associates with small to moderate effect size, and with recent claims that this may not translate to significant impairments,” Hamo and colleagues wrote. “Further studies should investigate this hypothesis regarding the different findings between analogue samples and clinical samples, and in particular, the association between cognitive functions and general daily functioning.” – by Savannah Demko

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.