Antisaccade performance in patients with obsessive–compulsive disorder and unaffected relatives: further evidence for impaired response inhibition as a candidate endophenotype

  • Leonhard Lennertz
  • Friederike Rampacher
  • Andrea Vogeley
  • Svenja Schulze-Rauschenbach
  • Ralf Pukrop
  • Stephan Ruhrmann
  • Joachim Klosterkötter
  • Wolfgang Maier
  • Peter Falkai
  • Michael Wagner
Original Paper


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.


Obsessive–compulsive disorder Endophenotype Cognition Neuropsychology Antisaccade Unaffected relatives Response inhibition 



The authors like to thank Eveline Matuschek for her assistance in data acquisition. This research work was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). The neuropsychological assessment was a part of a multicentre study entitled “Clinical Heterogeneity and Familiarity of OCD” (Fa 731/6-1) which was conducted at the German university hospitals of Bonn, Cologne, Stralsund, and Homburg; all of which are part of the “German epidemiologic network of OCD studies” (GENOS).

Conflict of interest

The authors report no biomedical financial interests or potential conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

406_2012_311_MOESM1_ESM.doc (52 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 52 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leonhard Lennertz
    • 1
  • Friederike Rampacher
    • 1
  • Andrea Vogeley
    • 1
  • Svenja Schulze-Rauschenbach
    • 1
  • Ralf Pukrop
    • 2
  • Stephan Ruhrmann
    • 2
  • Joachim Klosterkötter
    • 2
  • Wolfgang Maier
    • 1
  • Peter Falkai
    • 3
  • Michael Wagner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity of BonnBonnGermany
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity of CologneCologneGermany
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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