Brain Scan Detects Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Health Writer

Scientists at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom have released the results of a study indicating the differences in brain activity in people with Obsessive Disorders.

According to the study, brain scans showed a reduction of activity in certain parts of the brain in both patients with obsessive disorders and their family members. The study included people that had been diagnosed with OCD, family members and people with no history or family history of OCD.

The participants of the study were asked to choose between two side-by-side pictures, one of which was the "target." The pictures alternated and the targets changed. The tests were designed to measure flexibility in behaviors, one area where people with OCD experienced problems.

The results of the test showed people with no OCD and with no family history of OCD had activity in the orbitofrontal region of the brain. People that had been diagnosed with OCD, or who had a family member with OCD, had a much lower level of activity in the same region of the brain.

The lead researcher in the study, Dr. Samuel Chamberlain, in an article in BBC News, discussed the results of the study, "Impaired function in brain areas controlling flexible behavior probably predisposes people to developing the compulsive rigid symptoms that are characteristic of OCD. This study shows that these brain changes run in families, and represent a candidate vulnerability factor."

Brain scan by MRI would be helpful in the diagnostic process, however the cost would make it impractical. Using brain scans, however, may be useful in continuing research seeking to better understand OCD and to come up with effective treatments.