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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 18-22

The hippocampus and executive functions in depression

1 Department of Psychiatry, Base Hospital, Delhi Cantonment, Delhi, India
2 Commandant, Indian Naval Hospital Ship, Kochi, Kerala, India
3 Department of Psychiatry, Indian Naval Hospital Ship, Asvini, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
4 Department of Psychiatry, Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, Maharashtra, India
5 Scholar, Veer Kunwar Singh University, Ara, Patna, Bihar, India

Correspondence Address:
Shahbaz Ali Khan
Department of Psychiatry, Base Hospital Delhi Cantonment, Delhi - 110 010
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-6748.160920

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Background: The relationship between depression, hippocampus (HC), and executive dysfunctions seems complex and has been the focus of research. Recent evidence indicates a possible role of HC in executive dysfunction seen in depression. No such studies on Indian population have been done. Aim: To look for changes in HC and executive functions in depression. Settings and Design: A cross-sectional analytical controlled study. Sample size 50 (controls 50). Materials and Methods: Hippocampal volume and executive dysfunction was measured using structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), respectively. Findings on these two parameters were compared between depressives and healthy matched controls as well as between first episode (FE) and recurrent depressives and across the severity of depression (mild, moderate, and severe). Statistical Analysis: Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 17 was used for analysis. Normally distributed continuous variables were analyzed with independent t-tests. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used for multiple comparisons. Categorical data were compared with χ2 or Fisher's exact test. Clinical correlations were conducted using Pearson correlations. Result: Depressed patients had a smaller left (Lt) hippocampal volume as well as poor performance on several measures of executive functions. Smaller hippocampal volume was found even in FE. Those who had a past burden of depressive illness had an even smaller hippocampal volume. No direct correlation was found between the HC volume and cognitive dysfunction. Conclusion: Depressive illness appears to be toxic to the HC. The relationship between HC and executive dysfunction in depression may be indirect through its functional connections.

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