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Memory and strategic processing in first-degree relatives of obsessive compulsive patients

  • C. Segalàs (a1) (a2), P. Alonso (a1) (a3) (a4), E. Real (a1), A. Garcia (a5), A. Miñambres (a6), J. Labad (a1), A. Pertusa (a1), B. Bueno (a1), S. Jiménez-Murcia (a1) (a7) and J. M. Menchón (a1) (a3) (a4)...



The same executive dysfunctions and alterations in neuroimaging tests (both functional and structural) have been found in obsessive-compulsive patients and their first-degree relatives. These neurobiological findings are considered to be intermediate markers of the disease. The aim of our study was to assess verbal and non-verbal memory in unaffected first-degree relatives, in order to determine whether these neuropsychological functions constitute a new cognitive marker for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).


Recall and use of organizational strategies in verbal and non-verbal memory tasks were measured in 25 obsessive-compulsive patients, 25 unaffected first-degree relatives and 25 healthy volunteers.


First-degree relatives and healthy volunteers did not show differences on most measures of verbal memory. However, during the recall and processing of non-verbal information, deficits were found in first-degree relatives and patients compared with healthy volunteers.


The presence of the same deficits in the execution of non-verbal memory tasks in OCD patients and unaffected first-degree relatives suggests the influence of certain genetic and/or familial factors on this cognitive function in OCD and supports the hypothesis that deficits in non-verbal memory tasks could be considered as cognitive markers of the disorder.


Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: Dr C. Segalàs, Department of Psychiatry, Hospital Universitario de Bellvitge, c/ Feixa Llarga s/n, 08907 Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain (Email:


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