Background The same executive dysfunctions and alterations in neuroimaging tests (both functional and structural) have been found in obsessive-compulsive patients and their first-degree relatives. These neurobiological findings are considered to be intermediate markers of the disease. The aim of our study was to assess verbal and non-verbal memory in unaffected first-degree relatives, in order to determine whether these neuropsychological functions constitute a new cognitive marker for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).Method Recall and use of organizational strategies in verbal and non-verbal memory tasks were measured in 25 obsessive-compulsive patients, 25 unaffected first-degree relatives and 25 healthy volunteers.Results First-degree relatives and healthy volunteers did not show differences on most measures of verbal memory. However, during the recall and processing of non-verbal information, deficits were found in first-degree relatives and patients compared with healthy volunteers.Conclusions The presence of the same deficits in the execution of non-verbal memory tasks in OCD patients and unaffected first-degree relatives suggests the influence of certain genetic and/or familial factors on this cognitive function in OCD and supports the hypothesis that deficits in non-verbal memory tasks could be considered as cognitive markers of the disorder.
- executive dysfunction
- non-verbal memory
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
- organizational strategies
- verbal memory