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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder characterized by uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that people feel the urge to repeat over and over. Symptoms can fluctuate over time, and people with OCD may try to help themselves by avoiding situations that trigger their obsessions. OCD is a common disorder that affects adults, adolescents, and children, and most people with the disorder are diagnosed by early adulthood. Learn more about obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).


Featured Studies

Featured studies include only those currently recruiting participants. Studies with the most recent start date appear first.

Multimodal Assessment of Cannabinoid Target Engagement in Adults With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: November 20, 2021
Location: New York, New York
Eligibility: Ages 21–55, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

The purpose of this research study is to test how a medication called nabilone (Cesamet) affects neurocognitive processes involved in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), including threat response, processing of fear signals, and habitual behavior. OCD is a disabling illness that affects around 2% of the population and involves recurrent intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions) that lead to distress and/or impaired functioning. Nabilone is a synthetic form of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the primary psychoactive component of the cannabis plant). It acts on the brain's endocannabinoid system, which has been hypothesized to play a role in OCD symptoms. Nabilone is approved by the FDA for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. It is not FDA-approved for treating OCD.

In this study, 60 adults with OCD will receive a single dose of either nabilone or placebo. Participants will then complete a series of assessments including neuroimaging, psychophysiology (e.g., skin conductance recording), computerized behavioral tasks, and self-report measures. The information gained from this study could contribute to the development of new treatments for people with OCD and related disorders.

Increasing Treatment Efficacy Using SMART Methods for Personalizing Care

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: June 22, 2021
Location: Lexington, Kentucky
Eligibility: Ages 18 and Older, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

The proposed study will determine the feasibility, tolerability, and acceptability of a study that tests: 1) personalized treatment delivery (i.e., module sequencing and treatment discontinuation timing) aimed at increasing the efficiency of care, and 2) the research protocol designed to evaluate the effects of this personalized care. A sample of 60 participants with heterogeneous anxiety disorders (and comorbid conditions, including depression) will be enrolled in a pilot sequential multiple assignment randomized trial (SMART). Patients will be randomly assigned to one of three sequencing conditions: transdiagnostic treatment administered in its standard module order, module sequences that prioritize capitalizing on relative strengths, and module sequences that prioritize compensating for relative weaknesses. Next, after 6 sessions, participants will be randomly assigned to either continue or discontinue treatment to evaluate post-treatment change at varying levels of target engagement. This proposal will enable us to 1) test the feasibility, acceptability, and tolerability of the research protocol, treatment sequencing conditions, and early treatment discontinuation, 2) determine whether a preliminary signal that capitalization or compensation module sequencing improves treatment efficiency exists, and 3) explore preliminary associations between core process engagement at treatment discontinuation and later symptom improvement. The proposed study, and the subsequent research it will support, will inform evidence-based decision rules to make existing treatments more efficient, ultimately reducing patient costs and increasing the mental health service system's capacity to address the needs of more individuals.

Theta Burst Stimulation Plus Habit Override Training for Compulsive Behaviors

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: December 28, 2020
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Eligibility: Ages 18–60, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

This project seeks to identify causal neural mechanisms underlying unwanted, repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Using non-invasive brain stimulation coupled with practice in a computer task, we will modulate activity in a target brain region and measure effects on compulsive behaviors and related measures. This work could ultimately lead to the ability to treat compulsions more effectively by targeting the regions of the brain that can help or hinder attempts to overcome compulsions.

Brain Network Changes Accompanying and Predicting Responses to Pharmacotherapy in OCD

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: October 15, 2019
Location: New Haven, Connecticut
Eligibility: Ages 18–65, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

The proposed randomized, double-blind research study will use functional magnetic resonance neuroimaging using state-of-the-art HCP acquisition protocols and analytic pipelines, to identify predictors and correlates of response to an accepted first-line pharmacological treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Neurofeedback for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: July 31, 2015
Location: New Haven, Connecticut
Eligibility: Ages 18–65, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

The aim of this study is to train patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder to control a region of their brain that has been associated with their symptoms. Patients in the experimental group will be given direct feedback regarding activity in this brain area while they are undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning, and will try to learn to control activity in the region during these feedback sessions. A separate group of patients will be given a control form of feedback that we do not believe can have clinical benefits. Our primary hypothesis is that the neurofeedback training will reduce OCD symptoms more than the control feedback.

Overlapping Neural Circuits in Pediatric OCD

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: October 31, 2014
Location: New York, New York
Eligibility: Ages 5–17, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

The purpose of this study is to examine the brain functioning of children and adolescent with OCD before and after treatment with Exposure and Response Prevention (EXRP) therapy.

Physiological Brain Atlas Development

Study Type: Observational
Start Date: August 31, 2006
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Eligibility: Ages 6–90, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

The NIH grant has funded the development of a physiological brain atlas registry that will allow us to significantly improve the data collectioin and use of physiological data into a normalized brain volume. This initially was used to improve DBS implants for Parkinson's Disease, Dystonia, Essential Tremor, and OCD, but now includes data acquired during all stereotactic brain procedures.