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Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2009 Jan;17(1):4-12. doi: 10.1097/JGP.0b013e31816ff72b.

Three-dimensional surface mapping of the caudate nucleus in late-life depression.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, 3811 O'Hara St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA. buttersma@upmc.edu



To compare the volumes of the caudate nucleus, using traditional volumetry and a three-dimensional brain mapping technique, in a group of individuals with late-life depression and a group of age- and education-equated nondepressed comparison subjects.




University Medical Center.


Twenty-three nondemented subjects with late-life depression and 15 age- and education-equated elderly comparison subjects (depressed mean years of age: 70.5 +/- 5.7 SD, comparison subjects = 69.9 years +/- 6.4) with no history of psychiatric or neurologic disease.


Structural magnetic resonance imaging. Three-dimensional (3-D) surface models were created from manually traced outlines of the caudate nucleus from spoiled gradient echo images. Models were geometrically averaged across subjects and statistical maps created to localize any regional volume differences between groups.


Relative to comparison subjects, depressed subjects had significantly lower mean volumes for both the left (p = 0.029) and right (p = 0.052) caudate nucleus as well as total caudate volume (p = 0.032). Total volumes were 13.1% less in the depressed group (13.5% on the left and 12.6% on the right). 3-D maps further localized these reductions to the caudate head. Volume reductions were correlated with depression severity, as measured by the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.


Late-life depression is associated with left and right caudate nucleus reduction especially in anterior portions. Among depressed subjects, greater caudate reduction was associated with more severe depression. These results are consistent with growing evidence that the anterior caudate nucleus, especially the head, may be structurally and functionally abnormal in affective disorders.

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