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Studies have compared electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) with regard to clinical efficacy in the treatment of depression, but no study has yet addressed the differential impact on cognition.
To compare the neurocognitive effects of unilateral ECT and rTMS.
Thirty patients with treatment-refractory non-psychotic major depression received an average of ten treatments with either unilateral ECT or left prefrontal rTMS and were assessed for objective and subjective cognitive impairments before and about a week after treatment.
Treatment response was comparable (46% of the ECT group and 44% of the rTMS group showed a reduction of 50% or more in Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression scores). In patients treated with rTMS, cognitive performance remained constant or improved and memory complaints alleviated, whereas in the ECT group memory recall deficits emerged and memory complaints remained.
In contrastto unilateral ECT, rTMS has no adverse memory effects.
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