Neuropsychological test performances of young depressed outpatient women: an examination of executive functions

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Virginia Tech


Thirty young, unmedicated, outpatient, depressed women were compared to an equal number of matching controls on a series of neuropsychological tests purported to be sensitive to the executive functions. Specifically, the measures included the Design Fluency Test, the WAIS-R Digit Span subtest, a Dynamometer task of hand grip strength, perseveration, and fatigue, the FAS Verbal Fluency Test, a Serial Sevens Test, the Stroop Color and Word Test, and the Trail Making Test, as well as a memory measure, the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test. Despite past research which has indicated anterior hemispheric asymmetries and impaired neurocognitive performances in depressives, this research failed to identify any reliable differences between depressed and nondepressed women on any of the neuropsychological measures. These results argue against the frequently held stereotype that depressed individuals typically display impaired performances on neurocognitive tasks. Furthermore, since the profile of the depressed sample appeared to differ significantly from past studies, a discussion is provided as to how the characteristics of this group may have impacted the results. Implications of these findings for clinical practice and future research are also provided.



neuropsychology, depression