OCD Humans And CCD Dogs Share Common Brain Abnormalities, Says Studies
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Some dogs´ bad habits could be a sign of canine compulsive disorder (CCD), and a new study from Tufts University and Harvard Medical School shows that structural brain abnormalities in Doberman pinschers with the disorder are similar to those seem in humans with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). The results of the study suggest a new approach to understanding both OCD and the behaviors of man´s best friend.
“While the study sample was small and further research is needed, the results further validate that dogs with CCD can provide insight and understanding into anxiety disorders that affect people,” said Nicholas Dodman, from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and a co-author of the study that appeared in the journal Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry.
“Dogs exhibit the same behavioral characteristics, respond to the same medication, have a genetic basis to the disorder, and we now know have the same structural brain abnormalities as people with OCD,” Dodman explained.
OCD is thought to affect about 2 percent of the population, but the disorder is not well-understood and commonly goes untreated or undiagnosed for decades. The disorder is marked by repetitive behaviors or persistent thoughts that are time consuming and result in a disruption of daily routines. CCD is marked by repetitious and destructive behaviors such as tail chasing and destructive chewing.
The research team examined a sample set of 16 Dobermans, comparing MRI brain images of eight Dobermans with CCD to those of the control group. The team discovered that the CCD group had cerebral biomarkers in their brains that are consistent with those reported in humans with OCD.
“It has been very gratifying to me to use our imaging techniques developed to diagnose human brain disorders to better understand the biological basis for anxiety/compulsive disorders in dogs, which may lead to better treatments for dogs and humans with these disorders,” said co-author Marc J. Kaufman, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the McLean Hospital Translational Imaging Laboratory.
“Canines that misbehave are often labeled as ‘bad dogs’ but it is important to detect and show the biological basis for certain behaviors,” said co-author Niwako Ogata, an assistant professor of animal behavior at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine.
“Evidence-based science is a much better approach to understanding a dog’s behavior.”
The study´s findings build on previous research on compulsive disorders in animals such as CCD, which affects a variety of breeds. In 2010, researchers identified a genetic marker in dogs that coincides with an increased risk of OCD.
Another recent study found a type of brain surgery that appears to be an effective treatment for people suffering from severe obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) who have not responded to other treatments.
While the surgery shows promise, the study also reported that 2 of the 19 patients experienced permanent complications from the procedure, including paralysis on one side of the body and cognitive injury.