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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

In Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), an obsessive thought is a thought, image or urge that is unwanted, unpleasant and causes anxiety A compulsive behaviour is something someone feels they have to do to prevent an obsession coming true. It could be a physical act or a mental act.


OCD affects about three percent of the population. The pathophysiology involves an overactive loop of neural activity between the orbital prefrontal cortex, which is involved in feeling that something is wrong to the caudate nucleus, which gives the urge to act on personal memories or on instincts such as ordering or ruminating on one topic, to the cingulate, which is important in registering conscious emotion and which can keep focus or attention on the feeling of unease. The client’s error detections system is stuck in alert. The caudate nucleus is involved in automatic thinking; for example when you check that you have cleaned your desk, turned off a light or washed your hands. Dysregulation of this circuit means constantly checking or rechecking or thinking about checking. Brain scans show that when a person with OCD is asked to imagine something related to their compulsion (such as dirt for someone who compulsively cleans) their caudate and prefrontal cortex lights up.


In Neurotherapy we tend to disrupt this feedback loop and holding pattern. Using neurostimulation and neurofeedback we can begin to loosen the grip of the obsession and/or compulsion. Your mind will slowly begin to release the all-consuming thoughts. You will have the ability to discern real from unreal and to “shut it off.” The mind becomes more quiet and becomes more efficient at managing all issues. Although this activity is usually found frontally (F3,Fz, or F4) it may be found centrally or even at Posteriorly (Pz). Research has shown reducing high beta activity or decreasing beta while increasing high alpha (11-15hz) has decreased compulsions significantly (Soutar, 2011).


Hammond, D. C. (2003). QEEG-guided neurofeedback in the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder. Journal of Neurotherapy, 7(2), 25-52.

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. A Systematic Review.pdf

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