Did I turn off the stove? Good inhibitory control can protect from influences of repeated checking. Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Background and objectives Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by compulsions aimed at reducing anxiety associated with intrusive cognitions. However, compulsive behaviors such as repeated checking were found to increase rather than decrease uncertainty related to obsessive thoughts (e.g., whether the gas stove was turned off). Some recent studies illustrate that OCD patients and their family members have inhibitory deficits, often demonstrated by the stop-signal task. The current study aims to investigate relations between inhibitory control and effects of repeated checking. Methods Fifty-five healthy participants carried out a stop-signal task followed by a repeated-checking task. Additionally, participants were asked to complete self-report questionnaires measuring OCD, anxiety and depression symptoms. Results Confirming our hypothesis, participants with poor inhibitory capabilities demonstrated greater uncertainty and memory distrust as a consequence of repeated checking than participants with good inhibitory control. Limitations Our findings concern an initial investigation on a sample of healthy participants and should be replicated and extended to clinical populations. Conclusions These results suggest that deficits in inhibitory control may underlie cognitive vulnerability in OCD. An updated model integrating neuropsychological findings with current OCD models is suggested.

publication date

  • January 1, 2013