Background: Impaired cognitive flexibility has been implicated in the genetic basis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Recent endophenotype studies of OCD showed neural inefficiency in the cognitive control network and interference by the limbic network of the cognitive control network. Exploring the relationship between the functional brain network and impaired cognitive flexibility may provide novel information about the neurobiological basis of OCD. Methods: We obtained resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) scans and measured the cognitive flexibility of 37 medication-free OCD patients and 40 healthy control (HC) participants using the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST). We explored the difference between OCD and HC groups in the functional brain network related to impaired cognitive flexibility from the amygdala and dorsal striatal regions of interest (ROIs) by using a seed-based approach. Results: Significant differences between the OCD and HC groups were identified in the resting state functional network from the dorsal caudate. Increased functional connectivity from the dorsal caudate to the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and anterior insula (AI) was associated with poorer cognitive flexibility in the OCD group, but better cognitive flexibility in the HC group. Conclusions: These results provide evidence that the impaired cognitive flexibility of OCD may be associated with dysfunctions of the brain network from the dorsal caudate (DC) to important nodes of the salience network. Our results extend the neuropsychological model of OCD by showing intrinsically different associations between OCD and HC in functional network and cognitive flexibility.
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