Neurocircuit models of obsessive-compulsive disorder: limitations and future directions for research

Elizabeth Shephard, Marcelo C. Batistuzzo, Marcelo Q. Hoexter, Emily R. Stern, Pedro F. Zuccolo, Carolina Y. Ogawa, Renata M. Silva, Andre R. Brunoni, Daniel L. Costa, Victoria Doretto, Leonardo Saraiva, Carolina Cappi, Roseli G. Shavitt, H. Blair Simpson, Odile A. van den Heuvel, Euripedes C. Miguel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common psychiatric condition classically characterized by obsessions (recurrent, intrusive and unwanted thoughts) and compulsions (excessive, repetitive and ritualistic behaviors or mental acts). OCD is heterogeneous in its clinical presentation and not all patients respond to first-line treatments. Several neurocircuit models of OCD have been proposed with the aim of providing a better understanding of the neural and cognitive mechanisms involved in the disorder. These models use advances in neuroscience and findings from neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies to suggest links between clinical profiles that reflect the symptoms and experiences of patients and dysfunctions in specific neurocircuits. Several models propose that treatments for OCD could be improved if directed to specific neurocircuit dysfunctions, thereby restoring efficient neurocognitive function and ameliorating the symptomatology of each associated clinical profile. Yet, there are several important limitations to neurocircuit models of OCD. The purpose of the current review is to highlight some of these limitations, including issues related to the complexity of brain and cognitive function, the clinical presentation and course of OCD, etiological factors, and treatment methods proposed by the models. We also provide suggestions for future research to advance neurocircuit models of OCD and facilitate translation to clinical application.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-200
Number of pages14
JournalRevista Brasileira de Psiquiatria
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022


  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • clinical presentation
  • neurobiology
  • neurocircuit models
  • treatment advances


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