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The Influence of Depression on Processing Speed and Executive Function in Nondemented Subjects Aged 75

  • Susanne Jungwirth (a1), Sonja Zehetmayer (a2), Margareta Hinterberger (a1), Stephan Kudrnovsky-Moser (a3), Silvia Weissgram (a1), Karl Heinz Tragl (a1) and Peter Fischer (a1) (a3)...


Neuropsychological deficits are commonly found to be part of depression in old age and might simultaneously represent early symptoms of dementia. We investigated the influence of depression on processing speed and executive function in subjects who did not develop dementia during the following 5 years to examine whether these neuropsychological dysfunctions are due to depression or are influenced by other causes (e.g., education, cerebral comorbidity). A total of 287 subjects aged 75 (mean: 75.76) were available for analyses. Processing speed was measured by the Trail Making Test-A, Executive Function by the Trail Making Test-B and Verbal Fluency. DSM-IV-criteria were used for diagnosing depression. Cerebral comorbidity (e.g., stroke, Parkinson's disease), sex, education, antidepressant, and/or benzodiazepine medication, and a history of depression were taken into account as covariates. Univariate analyses and multiple regression analyses were calculated. Higher education was strongly related to better performance in all three psychometric tests. Cerebral comorbidity significantly slowed TMT-A performance and reduced Verbal Fluency scores. In multiple regression analysis depression showed only a minor, slowing influence on TMT-A and TMT-B performance. Depression only had a minor influence on processing speed and executive function in this sample of nondemented subjects. By comparison, the influence of education and cerebral comorbidity was seen to be stronger. (JINS, 2011, 17, 822–831)


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Correspondence and reprint requests to: Susanne Jungwirth, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Aging Research, Langobardenstraße122, 1220 Vienna, Austria. E-mail:


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Authors Jungwirth and Zehetmayer contributed equally to this work.



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The Influence of Depression on Processing Speed and Executive Function in Nondemented Subjects Aged 75

  • Susanne Jungwirth (a1), Sonja Zehetmayer (a2), Margareta Hinterberger (a1), Stephan Kudrnovsky-Moser (a3), Silvia Weissgram (a1), Karl Heinz Tragl (a1) and Peter Fischer (a1) (a3)...


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