Abnormal brain activation in excoriation (skin-picking) disorder: evidence from an executive planning fMRI study

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Brian L. Odlaug
  • Adam Hampshire
  • Samuel R Chamberlain
  • Jon E Grant

Background: Excoriation (skin-picking) disorder (SPD) is a relatively common psychiatric condition whose neurobiological basis is unknown.

Aims: To probe the function of fronto-striatal circuitry in SPD.

Method: Eighteen participants with SPD and 15 matched healthy controls undertook an executive planning task (Tower of London) during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Activation during planning was compared between groups using region of interest and whole-brain permutation cluster approaches.

Results: The SPD group exhibited significant functional underactivation in a cluster encompassing bilateral dorsal striatum (maximal in right caudate), bilateral anterior cingulate and right medial frontal regions. These abnormalities were, for the most part, outside the dorsal planning network typically activated by executive planning tasks.

Conclusions: Abnormalities of neural regions involved in habit formation, action monitoring and inhibition appear involved in the pathophysiology of SPD. Implications exist for understanding the basis of excessive grooming and the relationship of SPD with putative obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)168-174
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016

ID: 161061947