Did I turn off the stove? Good inhibitory control can protect from influences of repeated checking

O. Linkovski, E. Kalanthroff*, A. Henik, G. Anholt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Background and objectives: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by compulsions aimed at reducing anxiety associated with intrusive cognitions. However, compulsive behaviors such as repeated checking were found to increase rather than decrease uncertainty related to obsessive thoughts (e.g.; whether the gas stove was turned off). Some recent studies illustrate that OCD patients and their family members have inhibitory deficits, often demonstrated by the stop-signal task. The current study aims to investigate relations between inhibitory control and effects of repeated checking. Methods: Fifty-five healthy participants carried out a stop-signal task followed by a repeated-checking task. Additionally, participants were asked to complete self-report questionnaires measuring OCD, anxiety and depression symptoms. Results: Confirming our hypothesis, participants with poor inhibitory capabilities demonstrated greater uncertainty and memory distrust as a consequence of repeated checking than participants with good inhibitory control. Limitations: Our findings concern an initial investigation on a sample of healthy participants and should be replicated and extended to clinical populations. Conclusions: These results suggest that deficits in inhibitory control may underlie cognitive vulnerability in OCD. An updated model integrating neuropsychological findings with current OCD models is suggested.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)30-36
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive ability
  • Memory certainty
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Response inhibition
  • Stop signal


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