Cognitive performance and specific deficits in OCD symptom dimensions : II. Spatial memory and impaired recognition of visuospatial object locations
Objective : To investigate spatial recognition abilities and working memory in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) patients grouped according to their primary symptom dimensions. Memory has always occupied a central position in OCD research, mainly because of the notion that faulty memory processes could mediate many of the repetitive compulsive rituals. However, the role of different memory systems is not yet fully understood. Methods : There were 68 OCD patients and 65 healthy controls who completed two tasks from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB); a) spatial recognition memory, b) spatial working memory. Standard clinical and psychological background measures were also employed. Results : The OCD patients were impaired in spatial recognition memory whereas spatial working memory was spared regarding performance accuracy. Selective deficits in visuospatial recognition memory were associated with patients in all symptom dimensions while patients in the dimension contamination were the only ones impaired in both recognition accuracy and recognition time. Conclusion : It is suggested that spatial memory impairments may be secondary to an inability to apply efficiently elaborated attentional and goal-oriented strategies as part of the executive system to support visuospatial recognition memory in addition to experiences of incompleteness. The clinical relevance of the findings is discussed.