Researchers at Cambridge conducted a study that measured cognitive function and analyzed images of the brain in individuals with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to capture images of each participants’ brain, and computerized tests were given to study the ability of the individual to stop repetitive behaviors. Also included in the study were healthy family members of the individuals with OCD, and healthy, unrelated individuals used as a control. The family members were included so that the genetic link behind OCD could be explored.
The researchers discovered that individuals with OCD and their relatives did worse on the computerized tasks than the healthy control group. When the MRI photos were analyzed, individuals with OCD and their relatives were found to have distinct patterns in their brain structure, namely a decrease in grey matter in brain regions associated with the suppression of responses and habits.
It was noted that this decrease in grey matter may contribute to the characteristic compulsive and repetitive behaviors associated with OCD. However, researchers are still a long way from discovering the genes involved with OCD, and further research needs to be done to explore why some family members with the altered brain structure do not develop OCD.
Since the family members have similar brain structure, there must be something else contributing to the development of OCD. I wonder if there is something going on inside that is causing a chemical imbalance that contributes to OCD, or if environmental factors are important in the development of OCD. It would be interesting to look at identical twins and see what the pattern of OCD is in them.