How do I trust my memory

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At the same time, we know from studies with imaging methods that the brain metabolism is slightly changed in obsessive-compulsive disorders. In particular, in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder, an increased glucose metabolism has been found in the excitation loop between the forebrain and the basal ganglia, a structure in the center of the brain.

Based on this discovery, in recent years the exciting question of whether these metabolic changes are also expressed in altered mental performance has been explored.

A number of studies in recent years have shown that obsessive-compulsive disorder is in many cases actually associated with a reduced ability to structure information or to reproduce graphic knowledge content. In some studies, for example, patients were shown a complicated figure with the task of drawing it (see figure above right).

If the figure was reproduced on paper from memory immediately afterwards, many patients had significantly more problems than healthy test subjects. As soon as they were drawn, it became clear that the patients often "got bogged down" on details and did not grasp the main components of the figure, which made memorization difficult. It is not uncommon for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder to admit that they cannot memorize complex information well because they concentrate too much on details or, literally, “cannot see the forest for the trees”.

Likewise, patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder seem to find it somewhat more difficult to adapt flexibly to changing requirements. This is recorded, for example, with tasks in which people first have to react several times to a certain stimulus and then have to adjust to a new stimulus as a reaction signal.
However, it is only in the rarest of cases that the abnormalities found are so pronounced that the individual has a significant impact on everyday life. The deficits can often be seen clearly when one compares the average performance value of a group of compulsive patients with that of a group of healthy people.

The memory for linguistic information as well as the general intelligence are, however, according to recent studies unimpaired. The ability to solve logical problems or to focus attention only on a certain stimulus also deviated from the ability of healthy test subjects in only a few studies.