2021 Jenike Young Investigator Award

Beyond the Goal versus Habit binary: A computational EEG Study of the neurocognitive mechanisms of obsessive compulsive disorder

Amy Rapp, PhD

Columbia University (New York, NY)

Award Amount: $50,000

In order to better understand OCD, researchers are investigating what happens in the brain when people with OCD perform compulsions. Research shows that in OCD, the parts of the brain that allow us to control and regulate repetitive habits are not working right, leading to repetitive, ritualistic behaviors.

Dr. Rapp and her team are examining if differences in brain activity while people learn and make decisions are responsible for compulsive behaviors in OCD. They are collecting highly detailed information about brain function from 30 people with OCD and 30 healthy controls using electroencephalograms (EEG), which measure electrical activity in the brain using sensors in a cap that participants will wear on their heads. Ultimately, the project may provide a richer and fuller understanding of what happens in the brain during compulsions in OCD and provide new avenues for treatment and prevention. Initial results from this project were presented at the 2022 IOCDF Research Symposium in Denver.