Dissociation between MEG alpha modulation and performance accuracy on visual working memory task in obsessive compulsive disorder
Oscillatory brain activity in the alpha band (8–13 Hz) is modulated by cognitive events. Such modulation is reflected in a decrease of alpha (event-related desynchronization; ERD) with high cognitive load, or an increase (event-related synchronization) with low cognitive demand or with active inhibition of distractors. We used magnetoencephalography to investigate the pattern of prefrontal and parieto-occipital alpha modulation related to two variants of visual working memory task (delayed matching-to-sample) with and without a distractor. We tested nonmedicated, nondepressed patients suffering obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and pair-matched healthy controls. The level of event-related alpha as a function of time was estimated using the temporal-spectral evolution technique. The results in OCD patients indicated: (1) a lower level of prestimulus (reference) alpha when compared to controls, (2) a task-phase specific reduction in event-related alpha ERD in particular for delayed matching-to-sample task with distractor, (3) no significant correlations between the pattern of modulation in prefrontal and parietal-occipital alpha oscillatory activity. Despite showing an abnormally low alpha modulation, the OCD patients' performance accuracy was normal. The results suggest a relationship of alpha oscillations and the underlying thalamocortical network to etiology of OCD and an involvement of a compensatory mechanism related to effortful inhibition of extrinsic and intrinsic interference. Hum Brain Mapp 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.