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Children and youth with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) demonstrate difficulties with social, emotional and cognitive functions in addition to the core diagnosis of obsessions and compulsions. This is the first magnetoencephalography (MEG) study to examine whole-brain neurophysiological functional connectivity of emotional face processing networks in paediatric OCD. Seventy-two participants (OCD: n = 36; age 8–17 yrs; typically developing controls: n = 36, age 8–17 yrs) completed an implicit emotional face processing task in the MEG. Functional connectivity networks in canonical frequency bands were compared between groups, and within OCD and control groups between emotions (angry vs. happy). Between groups, participants with OCD showed increased functional connectivity in the gamma band to angry faces, suggesting atypical perception of angry faces in OCD. Within groups, the OCD group showed greater engagement of the beta band, suggesting the over-use of top-down processing when perceiving happy versus angry emotions, while controls engaged in bottom-up gamma processing, also greater to happy faces. Over-activation of top-down processing has been linked to difficulties modifying one's cognitive set. Findings establish altered patterns of neurophysiological connectivity in children with OCD, and are striking in their oscillatory specificity. Our results contribute to a greater understanding of the neurobiology of the disorder, and are foundational for the possibility of alternative targets for intervention.

Original publication




Journal article


NeuroImage: Clinical

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