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Thursday, March 1st 2007


Traditionally, at least from my psychopathology course, the cognitive deficits of depression have been excused as concentration failures or lack of motivation. Indeed, on a test on Monday I’m going to need to be able to distinguish between dementia and the “pseudodementia” of depression, wherein the latter you see lack of effort in memory testing, like immediately answering “I don’t know,” rather than true deficits.

A write up on a study of the relationship between depression and memory, using virtual reality, tries to contradict the above notion..

I’d Complement Your Sunglasses…But I Don’t Want To Lie

Earlier studies showed that people with mood disorders tend to have smaller hippocampi than nondepressed people. Other studies showed that depressed people have memory problems. This study strengthened the evidence of a link between the hippocampus and depression by showing that people with hippocampus dysfunction — as revealed by spatial memory problems detected by the new video game — are more likely to be depressed.

I’d like to know how they controlled for concentration, motivation, and other factors associated with MDD which you would think would explain memory deficits short of actual anatomic/physiologic explanations. As well, the study included just 49 subjects. Such a sample size can’t add much confidence (especially as medical research is under attack).

Alas, the full study in the American Journal of Psychiatry is subscription only. I’ll have to look it up tomorrow at the library. You can read the abstract here.