Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Depression and lack of concentration do not necessarily go together

10.02.2010
Many clinicians believe that depression goes hand in hand with cognitive difficulties such as memory problems or difficulties concentrating and paying attention, but a recent review of nearly 20 years of literature conducted by researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center has found that depression does not always lead to such impairments.

"The relationship between cognition – thinking, attention and memory – and depression remains poorly understood from a neuroscientific standpoint," said Dr. Munro Cullum, chief of psychology at UT Southwestern and senior author of the review appearing in the January issue of Neuropsychology, a journal published by the American Psychological Association. "This paper represents an important review of the literature that challenges some of the clinical myths about the effects of depression on cognitive functioning."

Part of what contributes to the clinical lore is that difficulties in concentrating can be a symptom of depression, and this may masquerade as other cognitive problems such as variability in memory performance.

"The presentation of depression can vary between people," said Dr. Shawn McClintock, assistant professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern and lead author of the study. "Many symptoms can be used to diagnose depression, so we tried to dissect and better understand how specific factors in depression might contribute to cognitive difficulties."

Just as a higher fever can indicate more-severe illness, researchers wanted to determine if more-severe depressive episodes led to a greater impairment of cognitive abilities. The reviewers examined 35 studies published between 1991 and 2007 that investigated links between depression severity in patients and specific impairments in their cognition. The areas of cognition included processing speed, attention, memory, language abilities and executive functioning.

"We found a lot of variability between studies that were conducted," Dr. McClintock said. "Some suggested cognitive difficulties; others said there were none."

In the research, processing speed was found to be the cognitive function most often affected by depression. Processing speed refers to an individual's ability to quickly take in information, process and act upon it. The capability slows when some individuals are depressed, the reviewers found. The link wasn't as clear for other types of cognitive abilities, including attention, concentration, memory and executive function.

Researchers found that part of the variability in the literature may be due to inconsistent measurement and diagnosis of depression among studies. Some studies diagnose depression using clinical research criteria, while others use depression severity scales.

"The research has not been the most rigorously controlled," Dr. McClintock said.

The review suggests that researchers need to collect more comprehensive neurocognitive assessment data in patients diagnosed with depression to minimize confounding factors such as age and education. The researchers also recommend that more detailed information be collected about each depressive episode, such as its duration and intensity.

"If we do this, clinicians can help a depressed patient with processing speed deficits by decreasing the amount of information a patient has to process at one time, while researchers could work out nuances to discover if we can target cognitive deficits and improve them," Dr. McClintock said.

"Research for the past few decades has been very beneficial, but it has actually provided more questions than answers. We need to take the heterogeneous, nuanced concept of depression and better characterize it, so we can refine future investigations and guide clinical practice."

Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the study were Dr. Mustafa Husain, professor of psychiatry and internal medicine, and Dr. Tracy Greer, assistant professor of psychiatry.

Visit www.utsouthwestern.org/neurosciences to learn more about UT Southwestern's clinical services in neurosciences, including psychiatry.

This news release is available on our World Wide Web home page at www.utsouthwestern.edu/home/news/index.html

To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via e-mail, subscribe at www.utsouthwestern.edu/receivenews

LaKisha Ladson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Study tracks inner workings of the brain with new biosensor
16.08.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht Foods of the future
15.08.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Staying in Shape

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Diving robots find Antarctic seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide in winter

16.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

Protein droplets keep neurons at the ready and immune system in balance

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>