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The neurobiological link between OCD and ADHD.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Review article (peer-reviewed)
Author Brem Silvia, Grünblatt Edna, Drechsler Renate, Riederer Peter, Walitza Susanne,
Project Neuroimaging of cognitive flexibility and action monitoring in paediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
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Review article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders
Volume (Issue) 6(3)
Page(s) 175 - 202
Title of proceedings Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders
DOI 10.1007/s12402-014-0146-x


Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are two of the most common neuropsychiatric diseases in paediatric populations. The high comorbidity of ADHD and OCD with each other, especially of ADHD in paediatric OCD, is well described. OCD and ADHD often follow a chronic course with persistent rates of at least 40-50 %. Family studies showed high heritability in ADHD and OCD, and some genetic findings showed similar variants for both disorders of the same pathogenetic mechanisms, whereas other genetic findings may differentiate between ADHD and OCD. Neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies suggest that partly similar executive functions are affected in both disorders. The deficits in the corresponding brain networks may be responsible for the perseverative, compulsive symptoms in OCD but also for the disinhibited and impulsive symptoms characterizing ADHD. This article reviews the current literature of neuroimaging, neurochemical circuitry, neuropsychological and genetic findings considering similarities as well as differences between OCD and ADHD.