What can sportsmen, OCD patients have in common?

September 22nd, 2011 - 5:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 22 (IANS) What can a patient of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and a sportsman have in common? They share a repetitive yet ritualistic behaviour which relieves anxiety and manages stress caused by the unpredictable surroundings, research shows.

David Eilam, professor in zoology at the Tel Aviv University, his graduate student Hila Keren and fellow researchers Pascal Boyer and Joel Mort analysed videotapes of people completing common tasks — putting on a shirt and locking a car, as well as basketball players completing a free-throw.

In the case of basketball players, explained Eilam, all they actually need to do to complete their action is throw the ball. So why the preceding ritualistic behaviour, such as bouncing the ball precisely six times?

“The routine they perform in the moments before shooting the ball is a method to focus their full concentration and control their actions,” Eilam said, according to a university statement.

However, repetitive actions are exaggerated in OCD sufferers who might check and recheck whether the stove has been turned off, for example, the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews reports.

These idiosyncrasies are individual to each person, said Eilam, who notes that rituals are like fingerprints - unique to each individual.

While everyone exhibits repetitive behaviour, not everyone’s behaviour is obsessive, the researchers said.

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