Electrical stimulation studies have recently evidenced the involvement of orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) in obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). In addition, lateral OFC is activated in healthy subjects during delayed non-matching-to-sample task (DNMS). In the present study, we hypothesized that OCD results from a specific defect of lateral OFC processing that can be evidenced via a DNMS task. To this end, we compared the DNMS performances of 20 OCD patients vs 20 demographically matched healthy controls. As predicted, our results showed that OCD patients performed worse than healthy controls at DNMS task. To test for the specificity of this behavioral impairment, we furthermore compared OCD patients and healthy subjects on a different task not involving directly the lateral OFC: the delayed match-to-sample task (DMS). As expected, OCD patients are more impaired for both the DNMS and the DMS task, compared with healthy subjects. Moreover, OCD patients tend statistically to perform worse for the DNMS task than for DMS task. Our results suggest the DNMS task specifically target the malfunctioning areas in OCD, such as the lateral OFC. In light of these results, lateral OFC should therefore be the focus of future therapeutic interventions.

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