Compulsivity in obsessive-compulsive disorder and addictions.24 May 2019
Compulsive behaviors are driven by repetitive urges and typically involve the experience of limited voluntary control over these urges, a diminished ability to delay or inhibit these behaviors, and a tendency to perform repetitive acts in a habitual or stereotyped manner. Compulsivity is not only a central characteristic of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) but is also crucial to addiction. Based on this analogy, OCD has been proposed to be part of the concept of behavioral addiction along with other non-drug-related disorders that share compulsivity, such as pathological gambling, skin-picking, trichotillomania and compulsive eating. In this review, we investigate the neurobiological overlap between compulsivity in substance-use disorders, OCD and behavioral addictions as a validation for the construct of compulsivity that could be adopted in the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC). The reviewed data suggest that compulsivity in OCD and addictions is related to impaired reward and punishment processing with attenuated dopamine release in the ventral striatum, negative reinforcement in limbic systems, cognitive and behavioral inflexibility with diminished serotonergic prefrontal control, and habitual responding with imbalances between ventral and dorsal frontostriatal recruitment. Frontostriatal abnormalities of compulsivity are promising targets for neuromodulation and other interventions for OCD and addictions. We conclude that compulsivity encompasses many of the RDoC constructs in a trans-diagnostic fashion with a common brain circuit dysfunction that can help identifying appropriate prevention and treatment targets.