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Brain Imaging and Behavior

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 255–263 | Cite as

Brain activation of the defensive and appetitive survival systems in obsessive compulsive disorder

  • Óscar F. Gonçalves
  • José Miguel Soares
  • Sandra Carvalho
  • Jorge Leite
  • Ana Ganho
  • Ana Fernandes-Gonçalves
  • Brandon Frank
  • Fernando Pocinho
  • João Relvas
  • Angel Carracedo
  • Adriana Sampaio
Original Research

Abstract

Several studies have shown that basic emotions are responsible for a significant enhancement of early visual processes and increased activation in visual processing brain regions. It may be possible that the cognitive uncertainty and repeated behavioral checking evident in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is due to the existence of abnormalities in basic survival circuits, particularly those associated with the visual processing of the physical characteristics of emotional-laden stimuli. The objective of the present study was to test if patients with OCD show evidence of altered basic survival circuits, particularly those associated with the visual processing of the physical characteristics of emotional stimuli. Fifteen patients with OCD and 12 healthy controls underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging acquisition while being exposed to emotional pictures, with different levels of arousal, intended to trigger the defensive and appetitive basic survival circuits. Overall, the present results seem to indicate dissociation in the activity of the defense and appetitive survival systems in OCD. Results suggest that the clinical group reacts to basic threat with a strong activation of the defensive system mobilizing widespread brain networks (i.e., frontal, temporal, occipital-parietal, and subcortical nucleus) and blocking the activation of the appetitive system when facing positive emotional triggers from the initial stages of visual processing (i.e., superior occipital gyrus).

Keywords

Obsessive-compulsive disorder Survival circuits Neuroimaging 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Óscar F. Gonçalves
    • 1
    • 2
  • José Miguel Soares
    • 3
    • 4
  • Sandra Carvalho
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jorge Leite
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ana Ganho
    • 2
  • Ana Fernandes-Gonçalves
    • 1
  • Brandon Frank
    • 1
  • Fernando Pocinho
    • 5
  • João Relvas
    • 5
  • Angel Carracedo
    • 6
  • Adriana Sampaio
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Counseling and Applied Educational Psychology, Bouvé College of Health SciencesNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Neuropsychophysiology Laboratory, CIPsi, School of PsychologyUniversity of MinhoBragaPortugal
  3. 3.Life and Health Sciences Research InstituteUniversity of MinhoBragaPortugal
  4. 4.ICVS-3Bs PT Government Associate LaboratoryGuimarãesPortugal
  5. 5.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Coimbra HospitalsCoimbraPortugal
  6. 6.Forensic Genetics Unit, Institute of Legal Medicine, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of Santiago de CompostelaGaliciaSpain

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