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      Humor appreciation of captionless cartoons in obsessive-compulsive disorder

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          It seems that the core neural regions and cognitive processes implicated in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) pathophysiology may overlap with those involved in humor appreciation. However, to date, there have been no studies that have explored humor appreciation in OCD. The purpose of the present work was to investigate humor appreciation in a group of patients with OCD.


          We examined 25 patients with OCD and 25 healthy controls, matched by age, education, and gender. We administered Penn's Humor Appreciation Test (PHAT), a computerized test comprising captionless cartoons by Mordillo. Each set of stimuli consisted of two almost identical drawings, one of which was funny due to the alteration of a detail in the cartoon, whereas the other was not funny. Severity of psychopathology was evaluated with the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS).


          No significant effect for group, gender or group × gender interaction was found on the PHAT scores. In OCD patients, humor appreciation was not significantly associated with age of onset, duration of illness, and obsessions, but correlated significantly with compulsions.


          Humor appreciation, based on captionless cartoons in OCD, does not seem to be deficient compared to healthy subjects but may be related to illness characteristics.

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          Most cited references 19

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          Functional neuroimaging and the neuroanatomy of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

          Functional neuroimaging studies have advanced the understanding of the brain mediation of OCD by orbitofrontal-subcortical circuitry, but much is still unknown. Phenotypic heterogeneity could account for many of the inconsistencies among previous neuroimaging studies of OCD. Current studies are seeking to find the neurobiological basis of OCD symptom subtypes and predictors of treatment response. Future studies combining genetics and basic neuroanatomic research with neuroimaging may clarify the cause and pathophysiology of OCD. Although many lines of evidence point to dysfunction of orbitofrontal-subcortical circuitry in patients with OCD, many questions remain unanswered. Some have suggested that orbitofrontal-subcortical hyperactivity in OCD may be the result of abnormal neuroanatomic development of these structures or a failure of pruning of neuronal connections between them, as occurs in normal development, but no postmortem neuroanatomic studies of OCD exist to delineate its pathophysiology. Interventions that directly alter the indirect-direct pathway balance within frontal-subcortical circuits will allow for direct testing of the pathophysiologic hypotheses presented here. The roles of various neurochemical systems in OCD are similarly unclear. Although an abundance of indirect evidence suggests serotonergic abnormalities in patients with OCD, no direct evidence demonstrates what those abnormalities are or whether they are primary or secondary phenomena in patients with OCD. Ongoing studies of 5-HT synthesis in the brains of patients with OCD may shed light on this question.
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            The functional anatomy of humor: segregating cognitive and affective components.

             Ray Dolan,  V Goel (2001)
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              Neuropsychological performance in obsessive-compulsive disorder: a critical review.

              There is growing evidence for neuropsychological dysfunction in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) related to an underlying frontal lobe and/or basal ganglia dysfunction. The following paper is a systematical review of the existing literature on cognitive impairment in OCD patients. Fifty studies were surveyed with regard to methodological aspects and cognitive impairments found in OCD patients. In addition, the impact of confounding variables such as psychotropic medication, co-morbidity or severity of symptoms on neuropsychological functioning as well as effects of treatment are discussed. OCD is often related to memory dysfunction that seems to be associated with impaired organization of information at the stage of encoding. Several other executive functions are also commonly disturbed, though results are inconsistent. The results of our study suggest that some cognitive deficits seem to be common in OCD, but future studies should focus more on possible confounding variables such as co-morbidity or psychotropic medication.

                Author and article information

                Ann Gen Psychiatry
                Annals of General Psychiatry
                BioMed Central
                21 November 2011
                : 10
                : 31
                [1 ]First Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
                [2 ]Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience, School of Psychology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
                [3 ]Community Mental Health Center, Northwest District of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
                [4 ]Department of Clinical and Theoretical Mental Health, School of Medicine, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
                [5 ]Second Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
                Copyright ©2011 Bozikas et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Primary Research

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry


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