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Episodic memory following deep brain stimulation of the ventral anterior limb of the internal capsule and electroconvulsive therapy

Research group Willuhn
Publication year 2017
Published in Brain Stimulation
Authors D. Denys, Isidoor O Bergfeld, Mariska H Mantione, Mechteld L C Hoogendoorn, Ferdinand Horst, Peter Notten, P Richard Schuurman,

BACKGROUND: Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) and Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) are effective treatments for patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD). However, a common side effect of ECT is autobiographical memory loss (e.g., personal experiences), whereas the impact of DBS on autobiographical memories has never been established.

OBJECTIVE: Comparing autobiographical memories following DBS and ECT.

METHODS: In two hospitals in The Netherlands, we interviewed 25 TRD patients treated with DBS of the ventral anterior limb of the internal capsule (vALIC), 14 TRD patients treated with ECT and 22 healthy controls (HC) with the Autobiographical Memory Inventory – Short Form (AMI-SF) in a prospective, longitudinal study between March 2010 and August 2016. Patients treated with DBS were interviewed before surgery, after surgery, and twice during treatment over 122.7 (SD: ±22.2) weeks. Patients treated with ECT were tested before ECT, after six right unilateral (RUL) ECT sessions and twice following ECT over 65.1 (±9.3) weeks. Controls were tested four times over 81.5 (±15.6) weeks.

RESULTS: Compared to HC, the AMI-SF score decreased faster in both TRD groups (P < 0.001). More specifically, AMI-SF score decreased in a comparable rate as HC after DBS surgery, but decreased more during treatment. The AMI-SF decrease in the ECT group was larger than both the DBS and HC groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Both ECT and vALIC DBS result in a faster autobiographical memory decline compared to HC. DBS might have a negative impact on autobiographical memories, although less so than ECT. Future work should dissect whether DBS or characteristics of TRD cause this decline.

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