Hyperconnectivity of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex in obsessive-compulsive disorder

Annemieke M Apergis-Schoute, Bastiaan Bijleveld, Claire M. Gillan, Naomi Fineberg, Barbara J. Sahakian

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Neuroimaging research has highlighted maladaptive thalamo-cortico-striatal interactions in obsessive-compulsive disorder as well as a more general deficit in prefrontal functioning linked with compromised executive functioning. More specifically, dysfunction in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a central hub in coordinating flexible behaviour, is thought to be central to obsessive-compulsive disorder symptomatology. We sought to determine the intrinsic alterations of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex in obsessive-compulsive disorder employing resting-state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging analyses with a ventromedial prefrontal cortex seed region of interest. A total of 38 obsessive-compulsive disorder patients and 33 matched controls were included in our analyses. We found widespread ventromedial prefrontal cortex hyperconnectivity during rest in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder, displaying increased connectivity with its own surrounding region in addition to hyperconnectivity with several areas along the thalamo-cortico-striatal loop: thalamus, caudate and frontal gyrus. Obsessive-compulsive disorder patients also exhibited increased functional connectivity from the ventromedial prefrontal cortex to temporal and occipital lobes, cerebellum and the motor cortex, reflecting ventromedial prefrontal cortex hyperconnectivity in large-scale brain networks. Furthermore, hyperconnectivity of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and caudate correlated with obsessive-compulsive disorder symptomatology. Additionally, we used three key thalamo-cortico-striatal regions that were hyperconnected with our ventromedial prefrontal cortex seed as supplementary seed regions, revealing hypoconnectivity along the orbito- and lateral prefrontal cortex-striatal pathway. Taken together, these results confirm a central role of a hyperconnected ventromedial prefrontal cortex in obsessive-compulsive disorder, with a special role for maladaptive crosstalk with the caudate, and indications for hypoconnectivity along the lateral and orbito frontal pathways.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalBrain and Neuroscience Advances
Early online date30 Nov 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Nov 2018


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