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  • The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, Volume 9, Issue 1
  • February 2006, pp. 1-11

Randomized controlled trial of the cognitive side-effects of magnetic seizure therapy (MST) and electroconvulsive shock (ECS)

  • Tammy D. Moscrip (a1) (a2), Herbert S. Terrace (a1) (a2), Harold A. Sackeim (a1) (a3) (a4) and Sarah H. Lisanby (a1) (a3)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 27 July 2005

Magnetic seizure therapy (MST) is under development as a means of improving the cognitive side-effect profile of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) by inducing more spatially delimited seizures that spare cortical regions involved in memory. We tested whether MST had a cognitive side-effect profile distinct from electroconvulsive shock (ECS) in a non-human primate model, using the Columbia University Primate Cognitive Profile, which has been shown to be sensitive to the cognitive effects of ECS. Using a within-subject cross-over design, daily ECS, MST, and sham (anaesthesia-only) interventions were administered in 5-wk blocks. Rhesus macaques (n=2) were trained on a long-term memory task, an anterograde learning and memory task, and a combined anterograde and retrograde task where learning and memory were evaluated for new and previously learned 3-item lists. Acutely following each intervention, monkeys were tested on the cognitive battery twice daily, separated by a 3-h retention interval. Overall, monkeys were least accurate following ECS (p's<0.05) compared to sham and MST. This effect was most marked for long-term memory of a constant target, short-term memory of a variable target and recall of previously learned 3-item lists. Monkeys were slowest to complete all tasks following ECS (p's=0.0001). Time to task completion following MST did not differ from sham. These findings suggest that MST results in a more benign acute cognitive side-effect profile than ECS in this model, consistent with initial observations with human MST.

Corresponding author
Department of Psychology, Columbia University, 1190 Amsterdam Avenue, 406 Schermerhorn Hall, New York, NY 10027, USA. Tel.: (212) 854-8785 Fax: (212) 854-3609 E-mail:
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The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology
  • ISSN: 1461-1457
  • EISSN: 1469-5111
  • URL: /core/journals/the-international-journal-of-neuropsychopharmacology
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