The memory deficit or forgetfulness hypothesis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has received considerable attention and empirical effort over the past decades. The present study aimed to provide a fair test of its various formulations: (1) memory dysfunction in OCD is ubiquitous, that is, manifests irrespective of modality and material; (2) memory dysfunction is found for nonverbal but not verbal material, (3) memory dysfunction is secondary to executive impairment; and (4) memory dysfunction affects meta-memory rather than memory accuracy. Participants comprised 43 OCD patients and 46 healthy controls who were tested on the Picture Word Memory Test (PWMT), which provides several unconfounded parameters for nonverbal and verbal memory accuracy and confidence measures across different time-points. In addition, the Trail-Making Test B was administered to test assumption number 3. Replicating earlier work of our group, samples displayed similar performance on all indices. None of the different formulations of the memory deficit hypothesis were supported. In view of waning evidence for a global memory deficit in OCD, neuropsychological research on OCD should more thoroughly investigate moderators and triggers of occasional instances of impaired performance, particularly cognitive biases such as perfectionism and an inflated sense of responsibility.
- Executive functioning
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder