Anomalous basal ganglia connectivity and obsessive– compulsive behaviour in patients with prader Willi syndrome

Jesus Pujol, Laura Blanco-Hinojo, Susanna Esteba-Castillo, Assumpta Caixàs, Ben J. Harrison, Marta Bueno, Joan Deus, Mercedes Rigla, Dídac Macià, Jone Llorente-Onaindia, Ramón Novell-Alsina

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27 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 Joule Inc. Background: Prader Willi syndrome is a genetic disorder with a behavioural expression characterized by the presence of obsessive– compulsive phenomena ranging from elaborate obsessive eating behaviour to repetitive skin picking. Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) has been recently associated with abnormal functional coupling between the frontal cortex and basal ganglia. We have tested the potential association of functional connectivity anomalies in basal ganglia circuits with obsessive–compulsive behaviour in patients with Prader Willi syndrome. Methods: We analyzed resting-state functional MRI in adult patients and healthy controls. Whole-brain functional connectivity maps were generated for the dorsal and ventral aspects of the caudate nucleus and putamen. A selected obsessive– compulsive behaviour assessment included typical OCD compulsions, self picking and obsessive eating behaviour. Results: We included 24 adults with Prader Willi syndrome and 29 controls in our study. Patients with Prader Willi syndrome showed abnormal functional connectivity between the prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia and within subcortical structures that correlated with the presence and severity of obsessive–compulsive behaviours. In addition, abnormally heightened functional connectivity was identified in the primary sensorimotor cortex–putamen loop, which was strongly associated with self picking. Finally, obsessive eating behaviour correlated with abnormal functional connectivity both within the basal ganglia loops and between the striatum and the hypothalamus and the amygdala. Limitations: Limitations of the study include the difficulty in evaluating the nature of content of obsessions in patients with Prader Willi Syndrome and the risk of excessive head motion artifact on brain imaging. Conclusion: Patients with Prader Willi syndrome showed broad functional connectivity anomalies combining prefrontal loop alterations characteristic of OCD with 1) enhanced coupling in the primary sensorimotor loop that correlated with the most impulsive aspects of the behaviour and 2) reduced coupling of the ventral striatum with limbic structures for basic internal homeostasis that correlated with the obsession to eat.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-271
JournalJournal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


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