A check on the memory deficit hypothesis of obsessive-compulsive checking

Steffen Moritz*, Dirk Jacobsen, Bastian Willenborg, Lena Jelinek, Susanne Fricke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)


A number of recent studies have challenged the hypothesis that patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) display global memory deficits. An alleviated form of the memory deficit hypothesis posits that OCD patients share deficits to vividly recall memory episodes. According to the latter view, checking rituals can be understood as counter-productive coping strategies to "enrich" memory episodes in order to make them more distinctive. A source memory task was administered to 27 OCD (17 checkers) and 51 healthy participants. Along with confidence judgments, a remember-know procedure was employed to assess whether OCD patients display problems with conscious/vivid recollection. Patients with or without checking compulsions did not exhibit differences to controls on source memory accuracy and meta-memory. Patients forgot more self-generated items, which, however, was related to comorbid depressive but not OCD symptoms. Findings challenge the ubiquity of memory deficits in OCD. To account for the inconclusive pattern of results in the literature, it is suggested that patients mistrust their memories and adopt checking rituals only when perceived responsibility is inflated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-86
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Memory
  • Memory confidence
  • Meta-memory
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

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