App-Based Mindfulness Meditation Training and an Audiobook Intervention Reduce Symptom Severity but Do Not Modify Backward Inhibition in Adolescent Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Evidence from an EEG Study

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(1) Background: 1-2% of children and adolescents are affected by Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The rigid, repetitive features of OCD and an assumed disability to inhibit recent mental representations are assumed to have led to a paradoxical advantage in that the Backward Inhibition (BI) effect was recently found to be lower in adolescents with OCD as compared to healthy controls. It was hypothesized that app-based mindfulness meditation training could reduce the disability to inhibit recent mental representations and thus increase the BI-effect by adapting cognitive flexibility and inhibition abilities according to healthy controls. (2) Methods: 58 adolescents (10-19 years) with OCD were included in the final sample of this interviewer-blind, randomized controlled study. Participants were allocated to an intervention group (app-based mindfulness meditation training) or an (active) control group (app-based audiobook) for eight weeks. Symptom (CY-BOCS), behavioral (reaction times and mean accuracy), and neurophysiological changes (in EEG) of the BI-effect were analyzed in a pre-post design. (3) Results: The intervention and the control group showed an intervention effect (Reliable Change Index: 67%) with a significant symptom reduction. Contrary to the hypothesis, the BI-effect did not differ between pre vs. post app-based mindfulness meditation training. In addition, as expected the audiobook application showed no effects. Thus, we observed no intervention-specific differences with respect to behavioral (reaction times and mean accuracy) or with respect to neurophysiological (perceptual [P1], attentional [N1], conflict monitoring [N2] or updating and response selection [P3]) processes. However, in an exploratory approach, we revealed that the BI-effect decreased in participants who did not benefit from using an app, regardless of group. (4) Conclusions: Both listening to an app-based mindfulness meditation training and to an audiobook reduce symptom severity in adolescent OCD as measured by the CY-BOCS; however, they have no specific effect on BI. The extent of the baseline BI-effect might be considered as an intra-individual component to predict the benefit of both mindfulness meditation training and listening to an audiobook.


Original languageEnglish
Article number2486
JournalJournal of clinical medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2023

External IDs

unpaywall 10.3390/jcm12072486
PubMed 37048570
Scopus 85152932576
Mendeley 3a9a0649-4e6e-3952-b461-d95249098f55
ORCID /0000-0001-6482-1316/work/142238729
ORCID /0000-0001-8692-1166/work/142239526
ORCID /0000-0003-1477-5395/work/142252283
ORCID /0000-0002-2989-9561/work/146788752


Research priority areas of TU Dresden

ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • EEG, OCD, adolescents, app, backward inhibition, intervention, mindfulness meditation

Library keywords