Mindfulness, Obsessive–Compulsive Symptoms, and Executive Dysfunction

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Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Recent investigations have included mindfulness as a component of intervention for OCD. However, the extent to which processes underlying OCD interfere with mindfulness has not been examined. Limited research has examined neuropsychological functions as mechanisms to explain different levels of mindfulness across individuals. Research in OCD highlights impairment in visual/spatial working memory as possible unique deficits; these and other components of executive functioning may also be important for mindfulness. Participants (N = 103) exceeding clinical cutoffs on measures of OCD, depressive, or generalized anxiety symptoms, or were healthy controls, completed a self-report measure of mindfulness and computerized measures of working memory and cognitive inhibition. Results demonstrated the OCD group scored significantly lower than the anxiety and control groups on some facets of mindfulness. The OCD group performed significantly worse on visual but not spatial working memory compared to verbal working memory. Additionally, the OCD group showed significantly poorer performance on all working memory tasks compared to the control group but not in comparison to other groups. There were no significant differences between the OCD group and the depression group on any measure. Finally, regression models examining working memory and cognitive inhibition as predictors of mindfulness found some support for two of the five facets of mindfulness, though the individual predictors were not significant. Implications are discussed in the context of mindfulness and executive functioning in OCD in terms of future research and treatment.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.