The somatic marker affecting decisional processes in obsessive-compulsive disorder

Paolo Cavedini, Claudia Zorzi, Clementina Baraldi, Sara Patrini, Giuliana Salomoni, Laura Bellodi, Rafael C. Freire, Giampaolo Perna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction. Patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) demonstrate impairment in decisional processes in which both cognition and emotion play a crucial role. Methods. We investigated the connection between decision-making performances and choice-related skin conductance responses (SCRs), to identify a somatic marker impairment affecting decisional processes in these patients. We explored SCRs during the Iowa Gambling Task in 20 OCD and 18 control, measuring anticipatory and posticipatory psychophysiological reactions according to card choices and to the outcomes of each selection. Results. Most patients exhibited weaker SCRs compared to HC, although there weren't substantial differences in magnitude between the two groups. In contrast with HC, patients with OCD showed no significant differences of SCRs activation according to card selections; they chose cards from neither favourable nor unfavourable decks. Conclusions. The main finding of the study were the evidence of a dysfunctional biological marker in OCD subjects, affecting decision-making process. Dysfunctional patterns of SCRs could partially explain OCDs impairment in this ability. Decision-making deficits in OCDs could be influenced in part by the lack of somatic differences in discriminating between advantageous and disadvantageous behaviour. These findings could lead to a more complete understanding of OCD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-190
Number of pages14
JournalCognitive Neuropsychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2012


  • Decision making
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Skin conductance response
  • Somatic marker

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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