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Functional Connectivity Reduced by ECT for Severe Depression

Reduction accompanied by improvement in symptoms of depression

MONDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with severe depression, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is associated with a reduction in functional connectivity, which is accompanied by improved depressive symptoms, according to a study published online March 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

To examine functional connectivity in the brain before and after ECT treatments, Jennifer S. Perrin, Ph.D., from the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom, and colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging and a data-driven analysis approach in nine patients with severe depression.

The investigators identified lasting effects of ECT on the functional architecture of the brain. In and around the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortical region, there was a significant cluster of voxels, which correlated with a reduction in the average global functional connectivity following ECT. This reduction in functional connectivity was concurrent with a significant improvement in depressive symptoms. The mean pre- and post-treatment scores on the Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating Scale were 36.4 and 10.7, respectively.

"The findings reported here add weight to the emerging 'hyperconnectivity hypothesis' of depression and support the proposal that increased connectivity may constitute both a biomarker for mood disorder and a potential therapeutic target," the authors write.

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