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Image_5_Unchanged Cognitive Performance and Concurrent Prefrontal Blood Oxygenation After Accelerated Intermittent Theta-Burst Stimulation in Depression: A Sham-Controlled Study.jpg

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posted on 30.06.2021, 04:39 authored by Wiebke Struckmann, Jonas Persson, Malin Gingnell, Wojciech Weigl, Caroline Wass, Robert Bodén

Aim: Intermittent theta-burst stimulation (iTBS) delivered over the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (DMPFC) has shown promise as a treatment for anhedonia and amotivation in patients with depression. Here, we investigated whether this protocol modulates cognitive performance and concurrent prefrontal blood oxygenation. We also examined whether depressed patients exhibit cognitive dysfunction and prefrontal hypoactivity at baseline compared to healthy controls.

Methods: This sham-controlled study comprises 52 patients randomized to either active or sham accelerated iTBS over the DMPFC (applied twice daily) for 10 consecutive treatment days, and 55 healthy controls. Cognitive performance was assessed at baseline and once again 4 weeks later using a cognitive test battery targeting attention, inhibitory control, and numerical, verbal, and visual working memory. Concurrent prefrontal oxygenated hemoglobin (oxy-Hb) was captured with functional near-infrared spectroscopy.

Results: Active iTBS over DMPFC did not affect cognitive performance or concurrent oxy-Hb change compared to sham iTBS in patients with depression. Compared to controls, patients at baseline showed impaired performance in the Trail Making Test, the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test, the Animal Naming Test, and the Digit Symbol Substitution Test, however no difference in prefrontal oxy-Hb was observed.

Conclusion: Patients with treatment-resistant depression displayed cognitive deficits, however without prefrontal hypoactivity, compared to healthy controls at baseline. iTBS treatment did not alter cognitive performance, nor concurrent prefrontal blood oxygenation, in patients. Taken together, iTBS can likely be considered a cognitively safe treatment option in this sample of patients.

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