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Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), an effective antidepressive treatment, is frequently accompanied by cognitive impairment (predominantly memory), usually transient and self-limited. The hippocampus is a key region involved in memory and emotion processing, and in particular, the anterior-posterior hippocampal subregions has been shown to be associated with emotion and memory. However, less is known about the relationship between hippocampal-subregion alterations following ECT and antidepressant effects or cognitive impairments.
Resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) based on the seeds of hippocampal subregions were investigated in 45 pre- and post-ECT depressed patients. Structural connectivity between hippocampal subregions and corresponding functionally abnormal regions was also conducted using probabilistic tractography. Antidepressant effects and cognitive impairments were measured by the Hamilton Depressive Rating Scale (HDRS) and the Category Verbal Fluency Test (CVFT), respectively. Their relationships with hippocampal-subregions alterations were examined.
After ECT, patients showed increased RSFC in the hippocampal emotional subregion (HIPe) with the left middle occipital gyrus (LMOG) and right medial temporal gyrus (RMTG). Decreased HDRS was associated with increased HIPe-RMTG RSFC (r = −0.316, p = 0.035) significantly and increased HIPe-LMOG RSFC at trend level (r = −0.283, p = 0.060). In contrast, the hippocampal cognitive subregion showed decreased RSFC with the bilateral angular gyrus, and was correlated with decreased CVFT (r = 0.418, p = 0.015 for left; r = 0.356, p = 0.042 for right). No significant changes were found in structural connectivity.
The hippocampal-subregions functional alterations may be specially associated with the antidepressant and cognitive effects of ECT.
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