The biological approach to explaining OCD

  • AO1:
  • Genetic explanations:
  • Researchers have identified specific genes which create a vulnerability for OCD, called candidate genes. Serotonin genes, e.g. 5HT1-D beta, are implicated in the transmission of serotonin across synapses. Dopamine genes are also implicated in OCD. Both dopamine and serotonin are neurotransmitters that have a role in regualting mood.
  • OCD isn't caused be one single gene, but several genes are involved. Taylor found evidence that up to 230 genes may be involved in OCD. OCD is polygenic
  • One group of genes may cause the disorder in one person, but a different group of genes may cause he disorder in another person - known as aetiologically heterogeneous. There is also evidence that different types of OCD may be the result of particular genetic variations, such as hoarding disorder and religious obsesion. 
  • Neural explanations:
  • Neurotransmitters are responsible for relaying information from one neuron to another. For example, if a person has low levels of serotonin then normal transmission os mood-relevant information doesn't take place and mood (and sometimes other mental processes) is affected. 
  • Some cases of OCD, and in particular hoarding disorder, seem to be associated with impaired decision making. This in turn may be associated with abnormal functioning of the lateral (the side bits) frontal lobes of the brain. The frontal lobes are responsible for logical thinking and making decisions. 


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