Context maintenance, an aspect of cognitive control, is the internal representation and utilization of task-relevant information that helps achieve task goals. Alterations in context maintenance may be responsible for the cognitive difficulties seen in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). We used two tasks designed to measure context maintenance: a) the cued-Stroop, a single-trial version of Golden’s Stroop test that varies the cue for each trial (color-naming or word-reading), and b) the AX-CPT task, a continuous performance task that has participants respond to an “A” only when followed by an “X,” with all other non-target trials labeled as AY, BX, and BY (and “Y” and “B” representing all non-X and non-A letters, respectively). Participants included 31 people with OCD and 30 psychiatrically-healthy controls that completed a neuropsychological test battery, self-report questionnaires measuring mood and symptom severity, and the computerized cued-Stroop and AX-CPT tasks. There was a 1s or 5s delay between the cue and probe for both tasks so as to vary the duration of context maintenance. We conducted a 2 (Group) x 2 (Delay) x 3 (Trial Type) repeated measures ANOVA for the cued-Stroop and a 2 (Group) x 2 (Delay) x 4 (Trial Type) repeated measures ANOVA for the AX-CPT. Dependent measures included median reaction times (RT) and mean error rates (ER). Both groups showed a congruency effect for the cued-Stroop, with slower RTs and greater ERs for the incongruent trials than the neutral and congruent trials, as well as lower ERs for BY trials compared to BX and AY trials of the AX-CPT task. There were no significant differences in RTs or ERs between groups for delay or condition for the cued-Stroop (ps > .45) or for the AX-CPT (ps > .07). The present study shows that people with OCD did not show deficits in context maintenance in two separate tasks. Limitations include low power, higher functioning participants with OCD, and the presence of comorbid depression and anxiety in some participants with OCD.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology



Date Submitted


Document Type





obsessive-compulsive disorder, cognitive control, context maintenance