Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain Pattern Associated With Genetic Risk Of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Date:
November 27, 2007
Source:
University of Cambridge
Summary:
Researchers have discovered that individuals with obsessive compulsive disorder and their close family members have distinctive patterns in their brain structure. These findings could help predict risk of OCD as well as lead to improved diagnostics.

Cambridge researchers have discovered that individuals with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and their close family members have distinctive patterns in their brain structure. This is the first time that scientists have associated an anatomical trait with familial risk for the disorder.

These new findings, recently reported in the journal Brain, could help predict whether individuals are at risk of developing OCD and lead to more accurate diagnosis of the disorder.

Obsessive compulsive disorder is a prevalent illness that affects 2--3 % of the population. OCD patients suffer from obsessions (unwanted, recurrent thoughts, concerns with themes of contamination and 'germs', the need to check household items in case of fire or burglary, the symmetrical order of objects or fears of harming oneself or others) as well as compulsions (repetitive behaviours related to the obsessions such as washing and carrying out household safety checks). These symptoms can consume the patient's life, causing severe distress, alienation and anxiety.

OCD is known to run in families. However, the complex set of genes underlying this heritability and exactly how genes contribute to the illness are unknown. Such genes may pose a risk for OCD by influencing brain structure (e.g. the amount and location of grey matter in the brain) which in turn may impact upon an individual's ability to perform mental tasks.

In order to explore this idea, the researchers used cognitive and brain measures to determine whether there are biological markers of genetic risk for developing OCD. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the Cambridge researchers captured pictures of OCD patients' brains, as well as those of healthy close relatives (a sibling, parent or child) and a group of unrelated healthy people.

Participants also completed a computerised test that involved pressing a left or right button as quickly as possible when arrows appeared. When a beep noise sounded, volunteers had to attempt to stop their responses. This task objectively measured the ability to stop repetitive behaviours.

Both OCD patients and their close relatives fared worse on the computer task than the control group. This was associated with decreases of grey matter in brain regions important in suppressing responses and habits.

Lara Menzies, in the Brain Mapping Unit at the University of Cambridge, explains, "Impaired brain function in the areas of the brain associated with stopping motor responses may contribute to the compulsive and repetitive behaviours that are characteristic of OCD. These brain changes appear to run in families and may represent a genetic risk factor for developing the condition. The current diagnosis of OCD available to psychiatrists is subjective and therefore knowledge of the underlying causes may lead to better diagnosis and ultimately improved clinical treatments.

"However, we have a long way to go to identify the genes contributing to the distinctive brain structure found in OCD patients and their relatives. We also need to identify other contributing factors for OCD, to understand why close relatives that share similar brain structures don't always develop the disorder."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Cambridge. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Cambridge. "Brain Pattern Associated With Genetic Risk Of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071126114002.htm>.
University of Cambridge. (2007, November 27). Brain Pattern Associated With Genetic Risk Of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071126114002.htm
University of Cambridge. "Brain Pattern Associated With Genetic Risk Of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071126114002.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) Researchers found an improvement in memory and learning function in subjects who received electric pulses to their brains. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins