Prefrontal white matter lesions and prefrontal task impersistence in depressed and nondepressed elders.


Journal Article

Poor task persistence is often observed among depressed individuals, and may be associated with some of the same frontal regions that are involved in depression. The current study explored the association between white-matter lesion volume in prefrontal cortex and noncompletion rates on a complex neurocognitive task among older adults in a treatment study for depression. Older adults in treatment for depression (n=83) and nondepressed (n=47) elders were administered the Stockings of Cambridge subtest (SoC) of the Cambridge Automated Neuropsychological Testing Battery (CANTAB) and completed a brain magnetic resonance imaging scan as part of an ongoing research study. Noncompletion of the SoC occurred in approximately 19% of depressed participants (16/83) and only 2% of nondepressed participants (1/47), which was statistically significant. In multivariate models, failure to complete the SoC was consistently and significantly associated with greater volume of white matter lesions in the anterior-most region of prefrontal cortex, particularly in the left hemisphere, and with greater age. Although SoC completion was not significantly associated with depression severity, noncompletion rates were significantly higher among unremitted individuals and those with comorbid anxiety at study entry. The inability to initiate behavior sufficient to sustain a complex neurocognitive task is a characteristic of geriatric depression which may be associated with integrity of left-prefrontal regions. Future research should investigate whether task impersistence is a construct that generalizes to other neurocognitive tasks, and if it is associated with other adverse outcomes in geriatric depression related to cerebrovascular pathology, such as poor treatment response.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Potter, GG; Blackwell, AD; McQuoid, DR; Payne, ME; Steffens, DC; Sahakian, BJ; Welsh-Bohmer, KA; Krishnan, KRR

Published Date

  • October 2007

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 32 / 10

Start / End Page

  • 2135 - 2142

PubMed ID

  • 17299509

Pubmed Central ID

  • 17299509

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0893-133X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/sj.npp.1301339


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England