, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 34-38

How Late-Life Depression Affects Cognition: Neural Mechanisms

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Abstract

Late-life depression is a major health problem and a significant cause of dysfunction that warrants closer evaluation and study. In contrast to younger depressed patients, most depressed older adults suffer more severe variants of the disorder, including significant cognitive impairments. These cognitive changes add to the severity of symptoms and disability that older depressed patients face and likely reflect compromise of certain neural circuits, linking cognitive impairment to late-life depression. Studies examining clinical correlates, neuropsychological testing, and functional and anatomic imaging have yielded a clearer understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying cognitive deficits in late-life depression. This article discusses cognitive impairment in geriatric depression and how developing a better understanding of its neural correlates may lead to improved understanding and outcome of this specific disorder.