Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 55
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Koike, Hiroyuki Demars, Michael P Short, Jennifer A Nabel, Elisa M Akbarian, Schahram Baxter, Mark G and Morishita, Hirofumi 2016. Chemogenetic Inactivation of Dorsal Anterior Cingulate Cortex Neurons Disrupts Attentional Behavior in Mouse. Neuropsychopharmacology, Vol. 41, Issue. 4, p. 1014.

    Fitzgerald, Zoë Thayer, Zoë Mohamed, Armin and Miller, Laurie A. 2013. Examining factors related to accelerated long-term forgetting in epilepsy using ambulatory EEG monitoring. Epilepsia, Vol. 54, Issue. 5, p. 819.

    Foley, Jennifer A. Kaschel, Reiner and Sala, Sergio Della 2013. Dual tasking in Alzheimer’s disease and depression. Zeitschrift für Neuropsychologie, Vol. 24, Issue. 1, p. 25.

    Lim, JaeHyoung Oh, In Kyung Han, Changsu Huh, Yu Jeong Jung, In-Kwa Patkar, Ashwin A. Steffens, David C. and Jang, Bo-Hyoung 2013. Sensitivity of cognitive tests in four cognitive domains in discriminating MDD patients from healthy controls: a meta-analysis. International Psychogeriatrics, Vol. 25, Issue. 09, p. 1543.

    Kellermann, Tanja S. Sternkopf, Melanie A. Schneider, Frank Habel, Ute Turetsky, Bruce I. Zilles, Karl and Eickhoff, Simon B. 2012. Modulating the processing of emotional stimuli by cognitive demand. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Vol. 7, Issue. 3, p. 263.

    Considine, C. M. Weisenbach, S. L. Walker, S. J. McFadden, E. M. Franti, L. M. Bieliauskas, L. A. Maixner, D. F. Giordani, B. Berent, S. and Langenecker, S. A. 2011. Auditory Memory Decrements, Without Dissimulation, among Patients with Major Depressive Disorder. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, Vol. 26, Issue. 5, p. 445.

    Emery, Virginia Olga B. 2011. Alzheimer disease: are we intervening too late?. Journal of Neural Transmission, Vol. 118, Issue. 9, p. 1361.

    Ridout, Nathan Dritschel, Barbara Matthews, Keith McVicar, Maureen Reid, Ian C. and O'Carroll, Ronan E. 2009. Memory for emotional faces in major depression following judgement of physical facial characteristics at encoding. Cognition & Emotion, Vol. 23, Issue. 4, p. 739.

    Werner, Natalie S. Meindl, Thomas Materne, Julia Engel, Rolf R. Huber, Dorothea Riedel, Michael Reiser, Maximilian and Hennig-Fast, Kristina 2009. Functional MRI study of memory-related brain regions in patients with depressive disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, Vol. 119, Issue. 1-3, p. 124.

    Bari, Andrea Dalley, Jeffrey W and Robbins, Trevor W 2008. The application of the 5-choice serial reaction time task for the assessment of visual attentional processes and impulse control in rats. Nature Protocols, Vol. 3, Issue. 5, p. 759.

    Gualtieri, C. Thomas and Johnson, Lynda G. 2008. Age-related cognitive decline in patients with mood disorders. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, Vol. 32, Issue. 4, p. 962.

    Kliger, Doron and Levy, Ori 2008. Mood impacts on probability weighting functions: “Large-gamble” evidence. The Journal of Socio-Economics, Vol. 37, Issue. 4, p. 1397.

    Kumar, Anand Ajilore, Olusola Kepe, Vladimir Barrio, Jorge R. and Small, Gary 2008. Mood, cognition andin vivo protein imaging: the emerging nexus in clinical neuroscience. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, Vol. 23, Issue. 6, p. 555.

    Mogg, A. Pluck, G. Eranti, S. V. Landau, S. Purvis, R. Brown, R. G. Curtis, V. Howard, R. Philpot, M. and McLoughlin, D. M. 2008. A randomized controlled trial with 4-month follow-up of adjunctive repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation of the left prefrontal cortex for depression. Psychological Medicine, Vol. 38, Issue. 03,

    Rogers, Peter J. Appleton, Katherine M. Kessler, David Peters, Tim J. Gunnell, David Hayward, Robert C. Heatherley, Susan V. Christian, Leonie M. McNaughton, Sarah A. and Ness, Andy R. 2008. No effect of n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (EPA and DHA) supplementation on depressed mood and cognitive function: a randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 99, Issue. 02,

    Boyer, Patrice Phillips, Jennifer L. Rousseau, François L. and Ilivitsky, Susan 2007. Hippocampal abnormalities and memory deficits: New evidence of a strong pathophysiological link in schizophrenia. Brain Research Reviews, Vol. 54, Issue. 1, p. 92.

    Brand, Serge Reimer, Torsten and Opwis, Klaus 2007. How do we learn in a negative mood? Effects of a negative mood on transfer and learning. Learning and Instruction, Vol. 17, Issue. 1, p. 1.

    Vakalopoulos, C. 2007. Neurocognitive deficits in major depression and a new theory of ADHD: A model of impaired antagonism of cholinergic-mediated prepotent behaviours in monoamine depleted individuals. Medical Hypotheses, Vol. 68, Issue. 1, p. 210.

    Jaeger, Judith Berns, Stefanie Uzelac, Sarah and Davis-Conway, Sara 2006. Neurocognitive deficits and disability in major depressive disorder. Psychiatry Research, Vol. 145, Issue. 1, p. 39.

    Rose, E.J. and Ebmeier, K.P. 2006. Pattern of impaired working memory during major depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, Vol. 90, Issue. 2-3, p. 149.


Cognitive function in depression: its relationship to the presence and severity of intellectual decline

  • R. G. Brown (a1), L. C. Scott (a1), C. J. Bench (a1) and R. J. Dolan (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 July 2009

Cognitive dysfunction is an integral feature of depression, in some cases of sufficient severity to warrant a diagnosis of dementia. There has been little systematic investigation of whether cognitive dysfunction is an inevitable consequence of depression, or is specific to a subgroup of depressed patients. Related to this is the distribution of cognitive dysfunction, whether there is a continuum of impairment or a distinct demented subgroup. Finally, there is the question of which aspects of cognitive function are most sensitive to the intellectual decline seen in depression. A study is described which addresses these issues. The distribution of global cognition was found to be normally distributed in the sample of 29 patients assessed. Based on this distribution and the scores of a control sample, the patients were classified as unimpaired, borderline or impaired. Two sets of independent comparisons were carried out. First, the unimpaired depressed patients were compared to matched non-depressed controls. Significant deficits were found on a range of neuropsychological measures covering aspects of language function, memory, both recall and recognition, attention and behavioural regulation. These same patients were also compared with two groups of matched depressed patients, with varying degrees of global cognitive impairment. In general, the cognitive measures showed a gradient of dysfunction across the three patient groups. Significant differences between the depressed groups were shown on measures of immediate recall, attention and behavioural regulation. The possible significance of attentional factors for the observed memory dysfunction is discussed.

Corresponding author
1Address for correspondence: Dr R. G. Brown, MRC Human Movement and Balance Unit, Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

D. L. Braff & A. T. Beck (1974). Thinking disorder in depression. Archives of General Psychiatry 31, 456459.

R. Breslow , J. Kocsis & B. Belkin (1980). Memory deficits in depression: evidence utilizing the Wechsler Memory Scale. Perceptual and Motor Skills 51, 541542.

J. Brown (1958). Some tests of the decay theory of immediate memory. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 10, 1221.

A. Calev & P. G. Erwin (1985). Recall and recognition in depressives: use of matched tests. British Journal of Clinical Psychology 24, 127128.

R. M. Cohen , H. Weingartner , S. A. Smallberg , D. Pickar & D. L. Murphy (1982). Effort and cognition in depression. Archives of General Psychiatry 39, 593597.

K. D. Cole & S. H. Zarit (1984). Psychological deficits in depressed medical patients. Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases 172, 150155.

D. G. Cornell , R. Suarez & S. Berent (1984). Psychomotor retardation in melancholic and non-melancholic depression: cognitive and motor components. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 93, 152157.

J. Corwin , E. Peselow , K. Feenan , J. Rotrosen & R. Fieve (1990). Disorders of decision in affective disease: an effect of β-adrenergic dysfunction. Biological Psychiatry 27, 813833.

J. L. Cummings (1986). Subcortical dementia. Neuropsychology, neuropsychiatry and pathophysiology. British Journal of Psychiatry 149, 682697.

J. L. Cummings & D. F. Benson (1984). Subcortical dementia. Review of an emerging concept. Archives of Neurology 41, 874879.

R. J. Dolan , C. J. Bench , R. G. Brown , L. C. Scott , K. J. Friston & R. S. J. Frackowiak (1992). Regional cerebral blood flow abnormalities in depressed patients with cognitive impairment. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 55, 768773.

G. C. Dunbar & W. A. Lishman (1984). Depression, recognition-memory and hedonic tone. A signal detection analysis. British Journal of Psychiatry 144, 376382.

J. Endicott & R. L. Spitzer (1978). A diagnostic interview. The Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia. Archives of General Psychiatry 35, 837844.

M. F. Folstein , S. E. Folstein & P. R. McHugh (1975). ‘Mini-mental state’: a practical method for grading the cognitive state of patients for the clinician. Journal of Psychiatric Research 12, 189198.

C. D. Frith , M. Stevens , E. V. Johnstone , J. F. W. Deakin , P. Lawler & T. J. Crow (1983). Effects of ECT and depression on various aspects of memory. British Journal of Psychiatry 142, 610617.

M. Golinkoff & J. A. Sweeney (1989). Cognitive impairments in depression. Journal of Affective Disorders 17, 105112.

V. C. Hachinski , L. D. Iliff , E. Zilkha , G. H. Du Boulay , V. L. McAllister , J. Marshall , R. W. Ross Rissell & L. Symon (1975). Cerebral blood flow in dementia. Archives of Neurology 32, 632637.

M. Hamilton (1960). A rating scale for depression. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 23, 5662.

R. P. Hart , J. A. Kwentus , J. R. Taylor & S. W. Harkins (1987 a). Rate of forgetting in dementia and depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 55, 101105.

R. P. Hart , J. A. Kwentus , J. B. Wade & R. M. Hamer (1987 b). Digit symbol performance in mild dementia and depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 55, 236238.

L. Hasher & R. T. Zacks (1979). Automatic and effortful processes in memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology 108, 356388.

A. F. Jorm (1986). Cognitive deficits in the depressed elderly: a review of some basic unresolved issues. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 20, 1122.

L. G. Kiloh (1961). Pseudo-dementia. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 37, 336351.

M. D. Kopelman (1986). Clinical tests of memory. British Journal of Psychiatry 148, 517525.

T. W. McAllister (1981). Cognitive functioning in the affective disorders. Comprehensive Psychiatry 22, 572586.

W. R. Miller (1975). Psychological deficits in depression. Psychological Bulletin 82, 238260.

E. Miller & P. Lewis (1977). Recognition memory in elderly patients with depression and dementia: a signal detection analysis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 86, 8486.

H. E. Nelson & P. McKenna (1975). The use of current reading ability in the assessment of dementia. British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 14, 259267.

P. J. Newman & J. J. Sweet (1992). Depressive Disorders. In Handbook of Neuropsychological Assessment: A Biopsychosocial Perspective (ed. A. E. Puente and R. J. McCaffrey ), pp. 263307. Plenum Press: New York.

L. R. Peterson & M. J. Peterson (1959). Short-term retention of individual items. Journal of Experimental Psychology 58, 193198.

G. Robertson & P. J. Taylor (1985). Some cognitive correlates of affective disorders. Psychological Medicine 15, 297309.

M. Roth , E. Tym , C. Q. Mountjoy , F. A. Huppert , H. Hendrie , S. Verma & R. Goddard (1986). CAMDEX: a standardized instrument for the diagnosis in the elderly with special reference to the early detection of dementia. British Journal of Psychiatry 149, 698709.

P. P. Roy-Byrne , H. Weingartner , L. M. Bierer , K. Thompson & R. M. Post (1986). Effortful and automatic cognitive processes in depression. Archives of General Psychiatry 43, 265267.

R. J. Savard , A. C. Rey & R. M. Post (1980). Halstead-Reitan Category Test in bipolar and unipolar affective disorders: relationship to age and phase of illness. Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases 168, 297304.

D. E. Sternberg & M. E. Jarvik (1976). Memory function in depression: improvement with antidepressant medication. Archives of General Psychiatry 33, 219224.

E. M. Taylor (1959). Psychological Appraisal of Children with Cerebral Defects. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Mass.

F. N. Watts & Z. Cooper (1989). The effects of depression on structural aspects of the recall of prose. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 98, 150153.

F. N. Watts , L. Morris & A. K. MacLeod (1987). Recognition memory in depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 96, 273275.

D. Wechsler (1945). A standardized memory scale for clinical use. Journal of Psychology 19, 8795.

E. Weigl (1941). On the psychology of so-called processes of abstraction. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 36, 333.

H. Weingartner , R. M. Cohen , D. L. Murphy , J. Martello & C. Gerdt (1981). Cognitive processes in memory. Archives of General Psychiatry 38, 4247.

J. Wolfe , E. Granholm , N. Butters , E. Saunders & D. Janowsky (1987). Verbal memory deficits associated with major affective disorders: a comparison of unipolar and bipolar patients. Journal of Affective Disorders 13, 8392.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *