BACKGROUND: Several structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have investigated the presence of brain abnormalities in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) but have not produced consistent findings. This might be partly related to their use of a regions-of-interest approach. We assessed gray matter volumes in 19 OCD subjects and 15 healthy volunteers, using voxel-based morphometry (VBM). METHODS: Images were acquired with a 1.5-T MRI scanner, spatially normalized, and segmented with optimized VBM. Statistical comparisons were performed with the general linear model. RESULTS: Significant findings were detected in regions predicted a priori to be implicated in OCD, including increased gray matter in OCD subjects relative to control subjects in posterior orbitofrontal and parahippocampal regions; decreased gray matter in OCD patients in the left anterior cingulate cortex; and inverse correlations between obsessive-compulsive symptom severity and gray matter in the medial thalamus (p < .001, uncorrected for multiple comparisons). Also, an unpredicted site of gray matter reduction in OCD patients in the right parietal associative cortex approached significance (p = .052, corrected for multiple comparisons). CONCLUSIONS: Our findings are consistent with previous studies implicating dysfunction of orbitofrontal, cingulate, thalamic, and temporolimbic regions in OCD and suggest that the involvement of the parietal cortex in the pathophysiology of OCD warrants further investigation.
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