Scientific article

Volumetric MRI changes, cognition and personality traits in old age depression

Published inJournal of affective disorders, vol. 124, no. 3, p. 275-282
Publication date2010

BACKGROUND: The presence of cognitive and structural deficits in euthymic elderly depressed patients remains a matter of debate. Integrative aetiological models assessing concomitantly these parameters as well as markers of psychological vulnerability such as persistent personality traits, are still lacking for this age group. METHODS: Cross-sectional comparisons of 38 elderly remitted patients with early-onset depression (EOD) and 62 healthy controls included detailed neuropsychological assessment, estimates of brain volumes in limbic areas and white matter hyperintensities, as well as evaluation of the Five-Factor personality dimensions. RESULTS: Both cognitive performances and brain volumes were preserved in euthymic EOD patients. No significant group differences were observed in white matter hyperintensity scores between the two groups. In contrast, EOD was associated with significant increase of Neuroticism and decrease of Extraversion facet scores. LIMITATIONS: Results concern the restricted portion of EOD patients without psychiatric and physical comorbidities. Future longitudinal studies are necessary to determine the temporal relationship between the occurrence of depression and personality dimensions. CONCLUSIONS: After remission from acute depressive symptoms, cognitive performances remain intact in elderly patients with EOD. In contrast to previous observations, these patients display neither significant brain volume loss in limbic areas nor increased vascular burden compared to healthy controls. Further clinical investigations on EOD patterns of vulnerability in old age will gain from focusing on psychological features such as personality traits rather than neurocognitive clues.

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Cognition Disorders/*diagnosis/psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder/*diagnosis/psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted/*methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging/*methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests/statistics & numerical data
  • Organ Size/physiology
  • Personality Inventory/*statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Reference Values
Citation (ISO format)
WEBER, Kerstin Maud et al. Volumetric MRI changes, cognition and personality traits in old age depression. In: Journal of affective disorders, 2010, vol. 124, n° 3, p. 275–282. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2009.11.016
Main files (1)
ISSN of the journal0165-0327

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