Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rapid Effects Of Intensive Therapy Seen In Brains Of Patients With Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Date:
January 22, 2008
Source:
University of California - San Diego
Summary:
In a study that may significantly advance the understanding of how cognitive-behavioral therapy affects the brain, researchers have shown that significant changes in activity in certain regions of the brain can be produced with as little as four weeks of daily therapy in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder. The discovery could have important clinical implications.

In a study that may significantly advance the understanding of how cognitive-behavioral therapy affects the brain, researchers have shown that significant changes in activity in certain regions of the brain can be produced with as little as four weeks of daily therapy in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The discovery could have important clinical implications, according to principal investigator Sanjaya Saxena, M.D., Director of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders Program at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine, whose findings are published on line this week in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Related Articles


"The study is exciting because it tells us more about how cognitive-behavioral therapy works for OCD and shows that both robust clinical improvements and changes in brain activity occur after only four weeks of intensive treatment," said Saxena.

OCD is an anxiety disorder in which individuals have unreasonable fears or worries that they try to manage through ritualized compulsive behaviors to reduce the anxiety. For example, a patient may experience the urgent need to engage in certain rituals, such as hand washing or repeatedly checking that the oven is off or the front door is locked.

Past studies using functional brain imaging studies of patients with OCD have demonstrated that elevated activity along the frontal-subcortical circuits of the brain decreases in response to treatment with serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI) medications or cognitive-behavioral therapy. However, clinical improvement of OCD symptoms was expected to require up to 12 weeks of behavioral therapy or medication treatment, the standard treatments for OCD. Only a handful of studies have looked at how therapy affects brain function, and all previous studies had examined changes over several months of treatment.

Saxena and colleagues at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA made two novel discoveries in their study of 10 OCD patients and 12 control subjects.

"First of all, we discovered significant changes in brain activity solely as the result of four weeks of intensive cognitive-behavioral therapy," said Saxena. "Secondly, these changes were different than those seen in past studies after a standard 12-week therapeutic approach using SRI medications or weekly behavioral therapy."

The researchers obtained positron emission tomography (PET) scans of the ten OCD patients both before and after they received four weeks of a therapy known as "exposure and response prevention," which gradually desensitizes patients to things that provoke obsessional fears or worries.

"This is the primary kind of therapy used for OCD. It teaches patients to pay attention to their internal experiences and tolerate scary thoughts without having to act on them," said Saxena. "They learn that nothing terrible happens if they refrain from their usual compulsive behaviors."

The normal control subjects received no treatment and were scanned twice, several weeks apart, and metabolic changes in the brain were compared between the two groups. After four weeks of therapy and without any changes in medication, the OCD patients showed significant improvements in OCD symptoms, depression, anxiety and overall functioning.

The PET scans of OCD patients demonstrated significant decreases in glucose metabolism -- a measure of brain cell activity -- in the right and left thalamus after treatment. These are areas of the brain involved in OCD and where changes have been seen in numerous past studies after longer-term treatment.

However, the PET scans in this study also showed a significant increase in activity in an area of the brain called the right dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, a region involved in reappraisal and suppression of negative emotions. Increasing activity in this region corresponded to the OCD patients' improvement in clinical symptoms after the four-week course of intensive therapy. Activity in this area had previously been found to increase after cognitive-behavioral therapy for major depression. Therefore, the researchers theorize that response to cognitive-behavioral therapy across a variety of disorders may require activation of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, according to Saxena.

Additional contributors to this study include E. Gorbis, J. O'Neill, S.K. Baker, K.M. Maidment, S. Chang, A.L. Brody, J.M. Schwartz and E.D. London, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA; M.A. Mandelkern of the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, and N. Salamon, Department of Radiology, UCLA. The study was funded in part by a grant from the National Institute for Mental Health.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of California - San Diego. "Rapid Effects Of Intensive Therapy Seen In Brains Of Patients With Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080117164133.htm>.
University of California - San Diego. (2008, January 22). Rapid Effects Of Intensive Therapy Seen In Brains Of Patients With Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080117164133.htm
University of California - San Diego. "Rapid Effects Of Intensive Therapy Seen In Brains Of Patients With Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080117164133.htm (accessed April 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AP (Mar. 25, 2015) While distracted driving is not a new problem for teens, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says it&apos;s much more serious than previously thought. (March 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) European researchers say our smartphone use offers scientists an ideal testing ground for human brain plasticity. Dr Ako Ghosh&apos;s team discovered that the brains and thumbs of smartphone users interact differently from those who use old-fashioned handsets. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Newsy (Mar. 24, 2015) According to a new study by the Alzheimer&apos;s Association, more than half of those who have the degenerative brain disease aren&apos;t told by their doctors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

Newsy (Mar. 23, 2015) Researchers found those who napped for 45 minutes to an hour before being tested on information recalled it five times better than those who didn&apos;t. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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