Alpha activity in the insula accompanies the urge to neutralize in sub-clinical obsessive-compulsive participants

Jones, Rhiannon and Bhattacharya, Joydeep. 2012. Alpha activity in the insula accompanies the urge to neutralize in sub-clinical obsessive-compulsive participants. Journal of Behavioural Addictions, 1(3), pp. 96-05. ISSN 2062-5871 [Article]

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Background and aims
The behavioural addiction model of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) proposes that as compulsions successfully reduce obsession-provoked anxiety in the early stages of the disorder, their performance is rewarding and therefore potentially addictive. According to this theory, the urge to perform a compulsion or neutralization resembles craving in addiction, and ventral fronto-striatal reward circuitry is activated during compulsive or neutralizing behaviour, resembling substance addiction disorders. The current study used EEG source localisation to test this hypothesis by examining brain activity accompanying the urge to neutralize and covert neutralization.
Two groups of non-clinical participants (15 Low-OC, 15 High-OC) performed a task in which the urge to neutralize was induced by supplying participants with an obsessive-compulsive-like thought. Source localised EEG activity was compared between a negative condition with high urge to neutralize, and a positive condition with low urge to neutralize, and correlations between brain activity and self-reported urge to neutralize were examined.
High-OC participants reported a significantly greater urge to neutralize than Low-OC participants, and the majority of participants reported performing covert neutralization during the experiment. Between-condition comparisons in the High-OC group revealed significantly greater alpha activity in the insula and vlPFC in the negative than the positive condition, which was significantly correlated with both urge to neutralize and later decrease in negative affect.
The current results support the proposal that the urge to neutralize in OCD is neurally similar to craving in substance addiction, in agreement with the behavioural addiction model of OCD.

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Date Deposited:

16 Jul 2015 09:59

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2017 13:22

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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