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J Affect Disord. 2016 Sep 15;202:10-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2016.03.062. Epub 2016 May 20.

Significantly improved neurocognitive function in major depressive disorders 6 weeks after ECT.

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Research Department, Vestre Viken Hospital Trust, Drammen, Norway. Electronic address:
Research Department, Vestre Viken Hospital Trust, Drammen, Norway; Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.



Cognitive side effects may occur after electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) in depressive disorder patients. Previous studies have been limited by small numbers of cognitive functions assessed. The present study reports the first results from a prospective project monitoring cognitive effects of ECT using a comprehensive neuropsychological test battery and subjective report of everyday cognitive function.


Thirty-one patients with major depressive disorder were assessed with the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB). Subjective cognitive complaints were described with the Everyday Memory Questionnaire (EMQ). Severity of depression symptoms were assessed with the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). These assessments were performed prior to and 6 weeks after non-standardized ECT.


Compared to baseline, the mean depression severity level was nearly halved and there were significant improvements in mean levels of Speed of Processing, Attention/Vigilance, and Visual Learning 6 weeks after ECT. The other cognitive domains were not altered from baseline. There was no significant change in subjective cognitive complaints. At baseline, there were several significant correlations between the MADRS and MCCB scores. There was no strong association between the EMQ and MCCB scores at either assessment point, but the post-ECT EMQ score was significantly correlated with depression severity.


Major limitations were low N and lack of uniform ECT procedure.


There was significant improvement in Speed of Processing, Attention/Vigilance, and Visual Learning 6 weeks after ECT. Cognitive tests scores were related to severity of depression, but not to subjective memory complaints.


Cognition; Depression; ECT; MCCB; Memory; Neuropsychology

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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