For those of you with OCD, you know that this disorder is not one to simply “get over.” Sometimes you might even swear that you would do anything to be “normal.” I know I would give anything just to be able to go out in the world, going about my everyday life without the life or death fear of catching disease. I look at others and I wonder why I am this way and hopelessly long to be like them, seemingly carefree and ignorant of contamination. I just wish I could get over it!
Well, researchers have proven that OCD may not be something that someone with this disorder can simply be “cured” of. MRI studies show that when compared to children in a control group, children diagnosed with OCD were found to have enlarged basal ganglia, and more specifically in the regions known as the globus pallidus, caudate, and putamen (Giedd et. al, 2000).
What does this mean? When you consider the functions of the basal ganglia, then you may begin to see why enlargement to the area can be a significant problem. It is thought that the basal ganglia is responsible for procedural learning (a.k.a. habits), voluntary motor control, eye movement, and cognitive-emotional functions (Stocco et. al, 2010). Therefore, abnormalities of this cortical region could lead to dysfunctions in these areas of human behavior.
This is something that my psychiatrist touched on when I first started seeing him, but I felt the need to explore it a bit further myself and then share it with others.
Personally, it is a bit comforting to know that this is not just “all in my head,” figuratively speaking. Literally, however, it really is all in my head 🙂
Today’s research leads to tomorrow’s treatments. Isn’t our modern world truly amazing?
Giedd, J., Rapoport, J., Garvey, M., Perlmuter, S., & Swedo, S. (2000). MRI assessment of children with obsessive-compulisive disorder or tics associated with streptococcal infection. American Journal of Psychiatry, 157 (2), 281-283.
Stocco, A., Lebiere, C., & Anderson, J. (2010). Conditional routing of information to the cortex: A model of the basal ganglia’s role in cognitive coordination. Psychological Review, 117 (2), 541–74.