“Subsyndromal” obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms (OCDSs) are common and cause impaired psychosocial functioning. OCDSs are better captured by dimensional models of psychopathology, as opposed to categorical diagnoses. However, such dimensional approaches require a deep understanding of the underlying neurocognitive drivers and impulsive and compulsive traits (ie, neurocognitive phenotypes) across symptoms. This study investigated inhibitory control and self-monitoring across impulsivity, compulsivity, and their interaction in individuals (n = 40) experiencing mild–moderate OCDSs.
EEG recording concurrent with the stop-signal task was used to elicit event-related potentials (ERPs) indexing inhibitory control (ie, N2 and P3) and self-monitoring (ie, error-related negativity and correct-related negativity (CRN): negativity following erroneous or correct responses, respectively).
During unsuccessful stopping, individuals high in both impulsivity and compulsivity displayed enhanced N2 amplitude, indicative of conflict between the urge to respond and need to stop (F(3, 33) = 1.48, P < .05, 95% Cl [−0.01, 0.001]). Individuals high in compulsivity and low in impulsivity showed reduced P3 amplitude, consistent with impairments in monitoring failed inhibitory control (F(3, 24) = 2.033, P < .05, 95% CI [−0.002, 0.045]). Following successful stopping, high compulsivity (independent of impulsivity) was associated with lower CRN amplitude, reflecting hypo-monitoring of correct responses (F(4, 32) = 4.76, P < .05, 95% CI [0.01, 0.02]), and with greater OCDS severity (F(3, 36) = 3.32, P < .05, 95% CI [0.03, 0.19]).