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J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 1998 Mar;4(2):115-26.

Quantitative and qualitative differences in the verbal learning performance of elderly depressives and healthy controls.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, UR-NIMH Center for the Study of Psychopathology of the Elderly, NY 14642-8408, USA.


We compared the verbal learning and memory performance of 57 inpatients with unipolar major depression and 30 nondepressed control participants using the California Verbal Learning Test. The effect of age within this elderly sample was also examined, controlling for sex, educational attainment, and estimated level of intelligence. Except for verbal retention, the depressive had deficits in most aspects of performance, including cued and uncued recall and delayed recognition memory. As well, there were interactions between depression effects and age effects on some measures such that depressives' performance declined more rapidly with age than did the performance of controls. The results are discussed in the context of recent contradictory reports about the integrity of learning and memory functions in late-life depression. We conclude that there is consistent evidence, from this and other studies, that elderly depressed inpatients have significant deficits in a range of explicit verbal learning functions.

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