Transdiagnostic variations in impulsivity and compulsivity in obsessive-compulsive disorder and gambling disorder correlate with effective connectivity in cortical-striatal-thalamic-cortical circuits

Linden Parkes, Jeggan Tiego, Kevin Aquino, Leah Braganza, Samuel R. Chamberlain, Leonardo F. Fontenelle, B. J. Harrison, Valentina Lorenzetti, Bryan Paton, Adeel Razi, Alex Fornito, Murat Yücel

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Individual differences in impulsivity and compulsivity is thought to underlie vulnerability to a broad range of disorders and are closely tied to cortical-striatal-thalamic-cortical function. However, whether impulsivity and compulsivity in clinical disorders is continuous with the healthy population and explains cortical-striatal-thalamic-cortical dysfunction across different disorders remains unclear. Here, we characterized the relationship between cortical-striatal-thalamic-cortical effective connectivity, estimated using dynamic causal modelling of resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data, and dimensional phenotypes of impulsivity and compulsivity in two symptomatically distinct but phenotypically related disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and gambling disorder. 487 online participants provided data for modelling of dimensional phenotypes. These data were combined with 34 obsessive-compulsive disorder patients, 22 gambling disorder patients, and 39 healthy controls, who underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging. Three core dimensions were identified: disinhibition, impulsivity, and compulsivity. Patients’ scores on these dimensions were continuously distributed with the healthy participants, supporting a continuum model of psychopathology. Across all participants, higher disinhibition correlated with lower bottom-up connectivity in the dorsal circuit and greater bottom-up connectivity in the ventral circuit, and higher compulsivity correlated with lower bottom-up connectivity in the dorsal circuit. In patients, higher clinical severity was also linked to lower bottom-up connectivity in the dorsal circuit, but these findings were independent of phenotypic variation, demonstrating convergence towards behaviourally and clinically relevant changes in brain dynamics. Effective connectivity did not differ as a function of traditional diagnostic labels and only weak associations were observed for functional connectivity measures. Together, our results demonstrate that cortical-striatal-thalamic-cortical dysfunction across obsessive-compulsive disorder and gambling disorder may be better characterized by dimensional phenotypes than diagnostic comparisons, supporting investigation of quantitative liability phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116070
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2019


  • Compulsivity
  • DCM
  • Disinhibition
  • GD
  • Impulsivity
  • OCD

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