A role for volition and attention in the generation of new brain circuitry. Toward a neurobiology of mental force

Journal of Consciousness Studies 6 (8-9):115-142 (1999)
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Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a commonly occurring neuropsychiatric condition characterized by bothersome intrusive thoughts and urges that frequently lead to repetitive dysfunctional behaviours such as excessive handwashing. There are well-documented alterations in cerebral function which appear to be closely related to the manifestation of these symptoms. Controlled studies of cognitive-behavioural therapy techniques utilizing the active refocusing of attention away from the intrusive phenomena of OCD and onto adaptive alternative activities have demonstrated both significant improvements in clinical symptoms and systematic changes in the pathological brain circuitry associated with them. Careful investigation of the relationships between the experiential and putative neurophysiological processes involved in these changes can offer useful insights into volitional aspects of cerebral function
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