Dr. Helen Blair Simpson describes the causes of obsessive compulsive disorder/OCD.
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Question: What causes obsessive compulsive disorder? Dr. Helen Blair Simpson: The simple answer is we don't know what causes OCD. What we know is that OCD is been associated with a hyperactive circuit in the brain that includes a little bit of frontal cortex involved in planning and decision making, the basal ganglia, which is involved in motor acts and motor learning and habits, and the -- which filters information coming into our nervous system. What we know is that, that circuit does not seem to be functioning normally in OCD. In addition, there are other parts of the brain that we think also contribute to the symptoms of OCD. The wax, the brain circuits underlying OCD, that's what generates the obsessions and compulsions. But what causes the brain circuit to be abnormal, that's a different questions and that's what I would call an ideology of the disorder. In there, we have a lot of different clues; there could be a lot of different ways that brain circuit becomes abnormal, including our genetic vulnerability to OCD, infectious causes, environmental causes. So in the end, we say, well we think OCD is caused by some combination of genes, the environment and development.