Attention allocation in OCD: A systematic review and meta-analysis of eye-tracking-based research

Dana Basel, Hadar Hallel, Reuven Dar, Amit Lazarov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: Cognitive models of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) implicate heightened attention allocation to stimuli related to one's obsessions in the disorder. Recently, to overcome several limitations of reaction time-based measures, eye-tracking methodology has been increasingly used in attentional research. Methods: A meta-analysis of studies examining attention allocation towards OCD-related vs. neutral stimuli, using eye-tracking methodology and a group-comparison design, was conducted conforming to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Separate meta-analyses were performed for attentional vigilance (both latency and location of first fixations) and maintenance (total dwell time and total fixation count, conjointly). Each meta-analysis was conducted twice – once including all studies (main analysis) and once only including studies using the free-viewing paradigm (secondary analysis). Results: The systematic search yielded a total of nine studies. Of those, eight provided the needed data to be included in the meta-analysis. No evidence emerged for vigilance via latency to first fixation. Vigilance reflected via first fixation location emerged in the main analysis, but not in the secondary one. Evidence for attentional maintenance was found only when analyzing free-viewing studies exclusively (the secondary analysis). Limitations: To increase the accuracy of the research question, correlational studies were excluded, resulting in a small number of available studies. Conclusions: OCD may be characterized by vigilance, but mainly in tasks entailing specific demands and/or goals. Conversely, attentional maintenance may be evident only when using tasks that pose no requirements or demands for participants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-550
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2023


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation374/20


    • Attention allocation
    • Eye-tracking
    • Free-viewing
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
    • Systematic review
    • meta-analysis


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