Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic disease that causes significant decline in the quality of life of those affected. Due to our limited understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of OCD, successful treatment remains elusive. Although many have studied the pathophysiology of OCD through electroencephalography (EEG), limited attempts have been made to synthesize and interpret their findings. To bridge this gap, we conducted a comprehensive literature review using Medline/PubMed and considered the 65 most relevant studies published before June 2018. The findings are categorised into quantitative EEG, sleep related EEG and event related potentials (ERPs). Increased frontal asymmetry, frontal slowing and an enhancement in the ERP known as error related negativity (ERN) were consistent findings in OCD. However, sleep EEG and other ERP (P3 and N2) findings were inconsistent. Additionally, we analysed the usefulness of ERN as a potential candidate endophenotype. We hypothesize that dysfunctional frontal circuitry and overactive performance monitoring are the major underlying impairments in OCD. Additionally, we conceptualized that defective fronto-striato-thalamic circuitry causing poor cerebral functional connectivity gives rise to the OCD behavioural manifestations. Finally, we have discussed transcranial magnetic stimulation and EEG (TMS-EEG) applications in future research to further our knowledge of the underlying pathophysiology of OCD.
- Error related negativity
- Event related potentials
- Frontal asymmetry
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Quantitative electroencephalography