The neurobiology of obsessive–compulsive personality disorder: a systematic review

Clara Marincowitz, Christine Lochner, Dan J. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background. A number of recent investigations have focused on the neurobiology of obsessive–compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). However, there have been few reviews of this literature with no detailed model proposed. We therefore undertook a systematic review of these investigations, aiming to map the available evidence and investigate whether it is possible to formulate a detailed model of the neurobiology of OCPD. Methods. OCPD can be considered from both categorical and dimensional perspectives. An electronic search was therefore conducted using terms that would address not only OCPD as a category, but also related constructs, such as perfectionism, that would capture research on neuropsychology, neuroimaging, neurochemistry, and neurogenetics. Results. A total of 1059 articles were retrieved, with 87 ultimately selected for abstract screening, resulting in a final selection of 49 articles focusing on neurobiological investigations relevant to OCPD. Impaired executive function and cognitive inflexibility are common neuropsychological traits in this condition, and suggest that obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) and OCPD may lie on a continuum. However, neuroimaging studies in OCPD indicate the involvement of specific neurocircuitry, including the precuneus and amygdala, and so suggest that OCD and OCPD may have important differences. Although OCPD has a heritable component, we found no well-powered genetic studies of OCPD. Conclusion. Although knowledge in this area has advanced, there are insufficient data on which to base a comprehensive model of the neurobiology of OCPD. Given the clinical importance of OCPD, further work to understand the mechanisms that underpin this condition is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)664-675
Number of pages12
JournalCNS Spectrums
Issue number6
StatePublished - 11 Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Obsessive–compulsive personality disorder
  • genetics
  • neurobiology
  • neurochemistry
  • neuroimaging
  • neuropsychology


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