Neurological Studies Shed Light on OCD Symptoms

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Neurological Studies Shed Light on OCD Symptoms

Mariam Rizkalla, Staff Writer

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OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) is a mental disorder that affects over 2 million United States citizens. Researchers and medical professionals have been trying to unravel new neurological mechanisms to guide new treatments and make existing therapies more effective. This December, recent discoveries have finally been made by Dr. Kate Fitzgerald and Dr. Luke Norman at the University of Michigan.

  Reference studies by Harvard University show that only 50 percent of OCD patients get better through treatment and only 10 percent fully recover. This ineffectiveness is partly due to the fact that medical professionals still do not know everything about this disorder as well as other mental disorders.

  In the article, “OCD: Brain Mechanism Explains Symptoms” by Medical News Today. When asked to describe his recent discoveries, the study’s lead author, Dr. Luke Norman said, “By combining data from 10 studies, and nearly 500 patients and healthy volunteers, we could see how brain circuits long hypothesized to be crucial to OCD are indeed involved in the disorder.”

  Throughout this research study, scientists focused specifically on a brain circuit called the cingulo-opercular network, which involves several brain regions connected by neuronal pathways in the center of the brain. Areas in this brain region have been discovered to look out for potential errors and call off actions to avoid undesirable outcomes.

  The discovery made by this study showed that those who have the condition displayed significantly more activity in brain regions associated with recognizing errors, but less activity in the brain regions associated with stopping an action.

 In the same article by Medical News Today, study co-author, Dr. Kate Fitzgerald said “We know that [people with OCD] often have insight into their behaviors, and can detect that they’re doing something that doesn’t need to be done. But these results show that the error signal probably isn’t reaching the brain network that needs to be engaged in order for them to stop doing it.”

  Lauren La Rue (10), an interested member in psychological studies, said “These discoveries are very significant to the field because they help improve the efficiency of treatments. OCD is a very serious disorder that should not be ignored. The more knowledge we collect about it, the quicker patients will recover which is the ultimate goal.”

  The discoveries were recently published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, and will hopefully be widely used to further improve and advance treatments. A much brighter future is starting to become visible in the medical field.


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