Psychological Medicine

Original Articles

Time course of prefrontal lobe dysfunction in severely depressed in-patients: a longitudinal neuropsychological study

C. Tricharda1 c1, J. L. Martinota1, M. Alagillea1, M. C. Masurea1, P. Hardya1, D. Ginesteta1 and A. Félinea1

a1 Hôpital de Bicêtre, Service de Psychiatrie, Bicêtre; INSERM U334 and CNRS URA 1285, Service Hospitalier F. Joliot, Orsay; Hôpital P. Brousse, Service de Psychiatrie, Villejuif, France


The Stroop Colour-Word Test (SCWT) and the Verbal Fluency Test (VFT), two tests that have been suggested to be particularly sensitive to prefrontal dysfunction, were administered to 23 severely depressed in-patients. Both tests were impaired in patients at inclusion, but only verbal fluency normalized with successful treatment of depression. VFT impairment is consistent with the hypothesis of a left prefrontal cortex dysfunction in depression. Moreover, the persistence of an impaired performance on SCWT in patients at discharge suggests that a selective attention deficit may persist in patients beyond a clear clinical improvement.


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Christian Trichard, SHFJ CEA. 4 place du Général Leclerc, 91401 Orsay Cedex, France.