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Executive Functions Evaluation through Evoked Potentials among Children with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

DOI: 10.2478/v10215-011-0004-8

Keywords: obsessive-compulsive disorder, executive functions, children

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Abstract:

Introduction: Obsessive-compulsive disorder [OCD] is characterized by repetitive, disturbing obsessions and/or compulsions. Obsessions are thoughts, images or feelings which are unwanted, persistent and recurrent. Compulsions are repetitive and ritual motor acts which are performed to decrease the anxiety level caused by repetitive obsessions. The onset of the OCD is typically during adolescence or early adulthood. Its prevalence among children is from 1% to 3% and it appears to be more present among boys than girls. Nowadays, the most effective way to treat OCD is to combine psychopharmacological with cognitivebehavioral treatment strategies. In the past decades researchers were more involved in investigating the role of the executive functions [EF] in psychiatric disorders. Aim of the study: to investigate EF among children with OCD by using Event Related Potentials (ERPs) on the Go/NoGo tasks. Subjects and methods: The sample is comprised of 20 children from both genders, between seven and 14 years of age [M=10,33±1,83], all diagnosed with OCD. Psychological evaluation was performed with Child Behavior Check List, Kohs cubes for assessment of the intellectual capacities, Beck Depression Inventory, The Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children, Stroop Color Word Test and Wisconsin Card Sorting Test. Neuropsychological evaluation was performed with the Visual Continuous Performance Test [VCPT] from which the Event Related Potentials [ERP] components were extracted. Results: There is a clear presence of obsessions and/or compulsions, absence of symptoms of depression, presence of perseverative errors and mild difficulties in mental flexibility. The ERP results cannot be understood as a disturbance of the EF in a direct sense, rather than as a disturbed normal functioning caused by the high anxiety level. Conclusion: There is no significant clinical manifestation of cognitive dysfunction among children with OCD in the early stage of the disorder, but it could be expected the same one to be appearing in the later stages of the disorder.

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