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Neuroanatomical assessment of the impact of negative emotion on implicit memory in patients with obsessive compulsive disorder

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 January 2016

Shin-Eui Park
Interdisciplinary Program of Biomedical Engineering, Chonnam National University, Gwangju, Republic of Korea
Jong-Chul Yang*
Department of Psychiatry, Chonbuk National University Medical School, Jeonju, Republic of Korea
Gwang-Woo Jeong*
Interdisciplinary Program of Biomedical Engineering, Chonnam National University, Gwangju, Republic of Korea Department of Radiology, Chonnam National University Medical School, Chonnam National University Hospital, Gwangju, Republic of Korea
Prof. Gwang-Woo Jeong, Department of Radiology, Chonnam National University Hospital, Chonnam National University Medical School, # 42 Jebongro, Dong-gu, Gwangju 501-757, Republic of Korea. Tel: +(82-62) 220-5881; Fax: (82-62) 226-4380; E-mail:
Prof. Gwang-Woo Jeong, Department of Radiology, Chonnam National University Hospital, Chonnam National University Medical School, # 42 Jebongro, Dong-gu, Gwangju 501-757, Republic of Korea. Tel: +(82-62) 220-5881; Fax: (82-62) 226-4380; E-mail:



We performed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to discriminate the differential brain activation patterns in patients with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and healthy controls during implicit retrieval tasks with emotionally neutral and unpleasant words.


Sixteen patients with OCD (mean age: 31.4±10.1 years) and 16 healthy controls (mean age: 32.6±5.8 years) with no history of neurological or psychiatric illness underwent 3-T fMRI. The stimulation paradigm consisted of the following cycle: rest, encoding of a string of two-syllable words, rest, and retrieval of the previously encoded words with the first consonant omitted.


During the implicit retrieval task with emotionally neutral words, no distinct brain activity was observed in either the patients with OCD or healthy controls. On the other hand, during the retrieval task with unpleasant words, the patients with OCD showed predominant activity in the superior/middle temporal pole, medial superior frontal gyrus, and orbitofrontal cortex (uncorrected p<0.001, extent threshold: 30 voxels), whereas the healthy controls did not show any distinct regions of activation.


This study revealed the differential brain activation patterns between patients with OCD and healthy controls during implicit memory tasks with unpleasant words. Our results suggest that the impact of negative emotion on implicit memory task may be associated with the symptomatology of OCD. This finding may be helpful for understanding the neural mechanisms that underlie implicit memory retrieval, particularly the interaction between emotion and cognition, in patients with OCD.

Original Articles
© Scandinavian College of Neuropsychopharmacology 2016 

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