What is the purpose of this study?

The purpose of this study is to investigate how people acquire new habits and how habits can sometimes become inflexible, leading to compulsions, which is a major component in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. We aim to study the neural and psychological processes that characterise the transitions from habits to compulsions. We have previously conducted a similar study, using other methods, in which we had very interesting results and also very positive feedback from the participants. Now we aim to deepen our knowledge on this topic by testing the same psychological constructs but with additional psychological, and imaging measures, which will help us to understand better the link between habits and compulsions in OCD. 

Who can take part ?

This study is now seeking participants aged 16-19 years (both with or without OCD) to help us in our research. It will entail a single study session in the University of Cambridge involving an MRI scan, simple computer-based games and questionnaires. We reimburse participants at the rate of £8 an hour and all travel expenses are covered. This study has received ethical approval from the East of England – Cambridge South Research Ethics Committee (Research Ethics Number:  REC 16/EE/0465).

What does this study involve?

We will investigate the neurochemical changes in the brain relevant to learning and compulsivity. To do this, you will undertake an Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) scan. The entire procedure will be conducted by specialised and trained radiographers, at the Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre (WBIC), Addenbrookes, Cambridge. A safety form prior to undertaking the scan will also be required, to ensure that is is safe for you to take part.

During the study visit, we will also ask you to perform some short-computerised tasks and complete a set of questionnaires so that we may associate performance in the computerised tests to physiological changes, emotional states and personality traits. The results of the study will enable us to better understand how a healthy brain reacts to specific tasks and may also help us understand how this is affected in Obessive-Compulsive disorder.

Please contact us ( for more details on how to get involved in this study. Or get in touch with the team via our online form.