Neuropsychological functioning and MRI signal hyperintensities in geriatric depression.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between signal hyperintensities--a probable marker of underlying pathology--on T2-weighted magnetic resonance brain scans and neuropsychological test findings in elderly depressed and normal subjects. METHOD: Elderly subjects with a DSM-III-R diagnosis of major depression (N=41) and normal elderly comparison subjects (N=38) participated in a magnetic resonance imaging study (1.0-T) of signal hyperintensities in periventricular, deep white matter, and subcortical gray matter. Hard copies of scans were rated in random order by research psychiatrists blind to diagnosis; the modified Fazekas hyperintensity rating scale was used. Cognitive performance was independently assessed with a comprehensive neuropsychological battery. Clinical and demographic differences between groups were assessed by t tests and chi-square analysis. Relationships between neuropsychological performance and diagnosis and hyperintensities and their interaction were analyzed by using analysis of covariance, with adjustment for age and education. RESULTS: Elderly depressed subjects manifested poorer cognitive performance on several tests than normal comparison subjects. A significant interaction between hyperintensity location/severity and presence/absence of depression on cognitive performance was found: depressed patients with moderate-to-severe deep white matter hyperintensities demonstrated worse performance on general and delayed recall memory indices, executive functioning and language testing than depressed patients without such lesions and normal elderly subjects with or without deep white matter changes. CONCLUSIONS: Findings validate cognitive performance decrements in geriatric depression and suggest possible neuroanatomic vulnerabilities to developing particular neuropsychological dysfunction in depressed subjects.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kramer-Ginsberg, E; Greenwald, BS; Krishnan, KR; Christiansen, B; Hu, J; Ashtari, M; Patel, M; Pollack, S

Published Date

  • March 1999

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 156 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 438 - 444

PubMed ID

  • 10080561

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0002-953X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1176/ajp.156.3.438


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States