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Spatial behavior reflects the mental disorder in OCD patients with and without comorbid schizophrenia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 July 2013

Anat Gershoni
Department of Zoology, Tel-Aviv University, Ramat-Aviv, Israel
Haggai Hermesh
CBT Unit, Geha Mental Health Center, Petah Tikva, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Ramat-Aviv, Israel
Naomi A. Fineberg
National OCD Treatment Service, Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, Welwyn Garden City, UK
David Eilam*
Department of Zoology, Tel-Aviv University, Ramat-Aviv, Israel
*Address for correspondence: David Eilam, Ph.D., Department of Zoology, Tel-Aviv University, Ramat-Aviv 69978, Israel. (Email:



Resolving the entangled nosological dilemma of whether obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) with and without schizophrenia (schizo-OCD and OCD, respectively) are two independent entities or whether schizo-OCD is a combined product of its parent disorders.


Studying motor activity in OCD and in schizo-OCD patients. Performance of the patients was compared with the performance of the same motor task by a matching control individual.


Behavior in both schizo-OCD and OCD patients differed from controls in the excessive repetition and addition of acts, thus validating an identical OC facet. However, there was a significant difference in spatial behavior. Schizo-OCD patients traveled over a greater area with less focused activity as typical to schizophrenia patients and in contrast to OCD patients, who were more focused and traveled less in a confined area. While schizo-OCD and OCD patients share most of the OC ritualistic attributes, they differ in the greater spread of activity in schizo-OCD, which is related to schizophrenia disorder.


It is suggested that the finding on difference in spatial behavior is a reflection of the mental differences between OCD and schizophrenia. In other words, this could be an overt and observable manifestation of the mental state, and therefore may facilitate the nosology of OC spectrum disorders and OCD.


It seems as if both the OCD patients’ focus on specific thoughts, and the contrasting wandering thoughts of schizophrenia patients, are reflected in the focused activity of the former and wandering from one place to the next of the latter.

Original Research
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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We are grateful to the anonymous patients and control individuals who willingly participated in this study.


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