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Orbitofrontal cortex dysfunction in obsessive-compulsive disorder? II. Olfactory quality discrimination in obsessive-compulsive disorder

Orbitofrontal cortex dysfunction in obsessive-compulsive disorder? II. Olfactory quality discrimination in obsessive-compulsive disorder

European Neuropsychopharmacology 9(5): 415-420, Sept

Background: Olfactory quality discrimination is a putative marker of orbitofrontal cortex function in mammals. As this portion of the cerebral cortex was repeatedly implicated in the pathophysiology of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) this study was designed in an attempt to quantify this behavioural function in OCD patient. Methods and Results: Olfactory quality discrimination was compared in OCD patients and healthy controls. Thirty two subjects participated in the study: 16 (13 women and 3 men) medication free OCD outpatients and 16 sex and age matched healthy controls. Olfactory tests consisted of determination of detection thresholds to isoamyl acetate, and a three way forced choice quality discrimination task, using isoamyl acetate, citral and eugenol as stimuli. No significant differences in sensitivity and performance of the quality discrimination task between the two groups were found. Within the OCD group the more severely affected patients (Y-BOCS>29) performed significantly better than the less severely affected (Y-BOCS<30) patients on the more difficult part of the quality discrimination task. Within this subgroup of patients the correlation between performance on the olfactory task and a previously reported alternation task tended to be negative as compared to a significantly positive correlation in the control group. Conclusions: It seems that olfactory quality discrimination may prove to be a useful noninvasive marker of prefrontal cortex function in OCD. Furthermore, the organization of functional modules within the orbitofrontal cortex, rather than a simple dysfunction, may prove to characterize OCD.

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Accession: 011097175

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 10523048

DOI: 10.1016/s0924-977x(99)00018-8

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