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Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy


Springer Publishing Company

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Clinical perfectionism is the rigid pursuit of high standards, interfering with functioning. Little research has explored neural patterns in clinical perfectionism. The present study explores neural correlates of clinical perfectionism, before and after receiving ten 50-minute, weekly sessions of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), as compared to low-perfectionist controls, in specific cortical structures: the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), right inferior parietal lobule (IPL). Participants in the perfectionist condition (n = 43) were from a randomized controlled trial evaluating ACT for clinical perfectionism and low-perfectionist controls were undergraduate students (n = 12). Participants completed three tasks (editing a passage, mirror image tracing, circle tracing) using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to measure neural activation. Results indicate that only the mirror image tracing task was associated with reduced HbT in the DLPFC and MPFC of the perfectionists whereas activation in the other tasks were relatively similar. There were no differences were observed in the right DLPFC, MPFC, and right IPL between the posttreatment perfectionist and non-perfectionist control groups. Our findings suggest an unclear relationship between neural activation and perfectionism.