OCD and the Hippocampus

Yesterday I was driving and managed to hear a small portion of an NPR show about a disorder of the hippocampus which causes people to have trouble finding their way around. Regretfully, I wasn’t able to listen to the entire episode, and I don’t even remember the name of the disorder — but my interest was sparked. Although I definitely am not as bad as the lady they featured, I do have trouble finding my way about sometimes. Part of it is doubt; even when I know my way somewhere, I tend to doubt and question myself to the point where I make a wrong decision because of it. But I do sometimes have trouble with things like depth perception and visuo-spatial skills. It can be hard for me to process all of the information coming to me when I’m driving in my car, especially because (what’s probably my) OCD compels me to read every single sign or piece of information in front of me, sometimes re-reading and repeating in my head a certain amount of times or counting the syllables. I tend to read things even if I know I don’t need to and they have no value to me.

The special was not about OCD, but got me thinking: is the hippocampus implicated as a trouble region in those with OCD?

If anyone’s interested in exploring this subject with me, I found three articles which I’ll be looking at more closely this evening:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1738533/pdf/v074p00962.pdf

http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=205372

http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/164/4/459.short

The first one seems to suggest that people with OCD (and schizophrenia) may have a smaller hippocampus than normal.

In other news, last night I saw a particularly good episode of Monk (wish I had caught the title) where he finds out that someone he put in prison 14 years ago is cleared of the murder. The guy is released from jail and Monk proceeds to try over and over again to make it up to this guy, only to find out the guy is guilty after all because he had actually been working with an accomplice (so two people are guilty.) Basically Monk ended up screwing up a bunch of things by over-doubting himself and trying to fix every little mistake he made, resulting in more little mistakes he had to fix. I could totally relate to that. I don’t know how many times I’ve adjusted something over and over again until realizing: “This object was actually centered/symmetrical enough when I started out. Now I think I’ve actually made things worse by trying to make it perfect.”

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2 thoughts on “OCD and the Hippocampus

  1. Matt Marinello says:

    Here’s a study I just read: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19531109

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