The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology

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

Tammy D. Moscrip a1a2c1, Herbert S. Terrace a1a2, Harold A. Sackeim a1a3a4 and Sarah H. Lisanby a1a3
a1 Magnetic Brain Stimulation Laboratory, Department of Biological Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY, USA
a2 Department of Psychology, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
a3 Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
a4 Department of Radiology, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, NY, USA

Article author query
moscrip td   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
terrace hs   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
sackeim ha   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
lisanby sh   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


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.

(Published Online July 27 2005)
(Received November 9 2004)
(Reviewed January 26 2005)
(Revised April 28 2005)
(Accepted May 4 2005)

Key Words: Amnesia; electroconvulsive shock; electroconvulsive therapy; magnetic seizure therapy; primate.

c1 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: