Antisaccade performance in patients with obsessive–compulsive disorder and unaffected relatives: further evidence for impaired response inhibition as a candidate endophenotype
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Cognitive dysfunctions such as inhibitory deficits and visuospatial abnormalities are often found in patients with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). Recent findings in unaffected relatives indicate that response inhibition and other neuropsychological functions may also constitute endophenotypes of OCD. In the present study, 30 OCD patients, 30 first-degree relatives, and 30 healthy control subjects were assessed using a comprehensive neuropsychological test battery. A subsample of 21 subjects of each group also performed an antisaccade task. The samples were matched according to age, gender, education, and verbal intelligence. The OCD patients and the unaffected OCD relatives showed increased antisaccade error rates compared with the healthy control group (p = 0.003, p = 0.028, respectively). Significantly prolonged antisaccade latencies as compared to prosaccade latencies were only found in the OCD patients compared with the healthy control group (p = 0.019). Only OCD patients but not the unaffected OCD relatives were impaired with regard to visuospatial functions, problem-solving, and processing speed. Antisaccade errors did not correlate with severity of OCD or depressive symptoms. This study confirms inhibitory deficits, as indicated by increased antisaccade error rates, as a candidate endophenotype of OCD. In agreement with previous findings from imaging studies, our data suggest that functional abnormalities in frontostriatal and parietal cortical regions form part of the vulnerability for OCD.