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Brain Scans Can Detect Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Armen Hareyan's picture

Brain scans could be the answer for detecting Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, scientists say, finding distinct anatomy in both OCD sufferers and their families members.

Scientists at the University of Cambridge found that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder patients and their families had less grey matter in the areas of the brain known to suppress responses.

The study, published in the latest issue of the journal Brain, used MRI scans and took photos of 31 Obsessive Compulsive Disorder sufferers and 31 of their immediate family members without the disorder.

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Those participating also took a test using computers, asked to rapidly press buttons then stop when a beeping noise went off.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder patients and their families scored lower on the test, finding it more difficult to control repetitive responses and further supporting the theory that the disorder is genetic.

"These brain changes appear to run in families and may represent a genetic risk factor for developing the condition, researcher Lara Menzies told the BBC.

The new study also supports the idea that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is linked to brain structure. It is not known what genes change anatomy for OCD patients, but the distinct structure, researchers say, could lead to more accurate diagnosis.

"The current diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder available to psychiatrists is subjective," says Menzies, "therefore knowledge of the underlying causes may lead to better diagnosis and ultimately improved clinical treatments."