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Memory and Executive Functions in Patients with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Vandborg, Sanne Kjær MSc*; Hartmann, Tue Borst MSc; Bennedsen, Birgit Egedal PhD*; Pedersen, Anders Degn MSc; Thomsen, Per Hove DMSc§

Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology: March 2014 - Volume 27 - Issue 1 - p 8–16
doi: 10.1097/WNN.0000000000000021
Original Studies

Objective: We investigated whether patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder have poorer memory and executive functions than healthy controls.

Background: The relatively inconsistent previous findings on this question reflect a lack of well-matched control groups, the inclusion of patients with comorbidity, and the use of noncomparable neuropsychological tests to assess memory and executive functions.

Methods: We used well-accepted neuropsychological tests of memory and executive functions to assess 42 patients who had obsessive-compulsive disorder without comorbidity, and 42 healthy controls. We matched the patients and controls pairwise by sex, age, and years of education.

Results: The patients performed significantly worse than the controls on the Rey Complex Figure Test, which assesses visuospatial memory and organizational skills. This group difference remained after we controlled for age, education, intelligence, and severity of depressive symptoms.

Conclusions: The findings indicate that patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder may have impaired visuospatial memory and organizational skills, and these impairments should be considered in treatment.

Trial Registration: NCT00792038.

*Clinic for OCD and Anxiety Disorders

Center for Psychiatric Research

§Regional Center for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Aarhus University Hospital Risskov, Risskov, Denmark

Vejlefjord Rehabilitation, Stouby, Denmark

Supported in part by a PhD fellowship to S.K.V., funded by Pulje til Styrkelse af Psykiatrisk Forskning, Trygfonden, Augustinusfonden, and Legatet af 22. juli 1959.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Sanne Kjær Vandborg, MSc, Clinic for OCD and Anxiety Disorders, Aarhus University Hospital Risskov, Tretommervej 1, 8240 Risskov, Denmark (e-mail:

Received March 18, 2013

Accepted June 9, 2013

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.