Negative priming (cognitive inhibition) in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Steffen Moritz*, Martin Kloss, Lena Jelinek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Cognitive disinhibition has been implicated in the pathogenesis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Negative priming (NP) is regarded to tap into this function. While early studies indeed found reduced negative priming in OCD, attempts to replicate are both scarce and equivocal. Moreover, several studies in favor of the disinhibition hypothesis are plagued by methodological limitations. For the present investigation, 18 participants with OCD and 28 healthy controls underwent a computerized NP experiment with varying response-stimulus intervals. In addition, a variant of the paradigm with concurrent item presentation was employed to rule out the confounding impact of memory. Negative priming was comparable between groups yielding small between-group effect sizes. The present study challenges broad claims of disinhibition in OCD. In our view, the disinhibition account faces theoretical problems. Instead, theories implicating cognitive biases as well as metacognitive problems may more parsimoniously explain the idiosyncratic nature of OCD symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognition
  • Inhibition
  • Negative priming
  • Neuropsychology
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Stroop


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