Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Insights from animal models

Henry Szechtman, Susanne E. Ahmari, Richard J. Beninger*, David Eilam, Brian H. Harvey, Henriette Edemann-Callesen, Christine Winter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Research with animal models of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) shows the following: (1) Optogenetic studies in mice provide evidence for a plausible cause-effect relation between increased activity in cortico-basal ganglia-thalamo-cortical (CBGTC) circuits and OCD by demonstrating the induction of compulsive behavior with the experimental manipulation of the CBGTC circuit. (2) Parallel use of several animal models is a fruitful paradigm to examine the mechanisms of treatment effects of deep brain stimulation in distinct OCD endophenotypes. (3) Features of spontaneous behavior in deer mice constitute a rich platform to investigate the neurobiology of OCD, social ramifications of a compulsive phenotype, and test novel drugs. (4) Studies in animal models for psychiatric disorders comorbid with OCD suggest comorbidity may involve shared neural circuits controlling expression of compulsive behavior. (5) Analysis of compulsive behavior into its constitutive components provides evidence from an animal model for a motivational perspective on OCD. (6) Methods of behavioral analysis in an animal model translate to dissection of compulsive rituals in OCD patients, leading to diagnostic tests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-279
Number of pages26
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
StatePublished - May 2017


  • Animal model
  • Basal ganglia
  • Deer mouse
  • Endophenotypes
  • Nucleus accumbens core
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Orbitofrontal cortex
  • Quinpirole
  • Security motivation system
  • Striatum


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