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J ECT. 2001 Jun;17(2):129-35.

Subtypes of memory dysfunction associated with ECT: characteristics and neurobiological bases.

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Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychobiology, University of Barcelona, Spain.


Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an effective treatment for a variety of psychiatric syndromes. However, one of its adverse secondary effects is neurocognitive dysfunction. The aim of this paper is to review different subtypes of memory dysfunction associated with ECT from a neuropsychological perspective. Declarative memory is clearly impaired after ECT. Immediate memory, however, is broadly preserved. Few studies have addressed procedural and incidental memory. Selective memory is impaired, probably due to the disruption of specific brain regions. Some of the possible neurobiological bases of ECT memory dysfunction are discussed in this paper. Synaptic plasticity, the cerebral neurotransmission system, and cerebral metabolism are examined in relation to the dysfunction and subsequent recovery of each memory subtype.

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