Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 310–318 | Cite as

Cognitive Functioning in Late-life Depression: A Critical Review of Sociodemographic, Neurobiological, and Treatment Correlates

  • Vonetta M. Dotson
  • Sarah M. Szymkowicz
  • Joseph U. Kim
  • Shawn M. McClintock
Geropsychiatry & Cognitive Disorders of Late Life (P Newhouse, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Geropsychiatry & Cognitive Disorders of Late Life


Purpose of Review

Both clinical and subthreshold depression in older adults are associated with cognitive dysfunction. This review summarizes the latest literature on patterns of cognitive functioning in late-life depression (LLD), including moderators of the relationship between depression and cognitive functioning and underlying neurobiological mechanisms.

Recent Findings

LLD is associated with cognitive dysfunction across multiple domains, particularly processing speed and executive functions. This relationship is moderated by demographic and clinical variables such as sex, race, age of onset, and severity of different symptom dimensions of depression. The impact of depression treatment on cognitive deficits in LLD differs across treatment approaches, but overall LLD is associated with persistent cognitive deficits after depression remission.


Clarifying treatments with dual mood and cognitive benefits is an important area for future research. Our understanding of and treatment for cognitive deficits in LLD will also benefit from additional work that examines clinical and demographic contributions.


Geriatric depression Cognitive impairment Older adults Cognitive decline Mood disorders Symptom dimensions 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

All reported studies with human subjects performed by the authors have been previously published and complied with all applicable ethical standards, including the Helsinki declaration and its amendments, institutional review board standards, and national guidelines.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vonetta M. Dotson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sarah M. Szymkowicz
    • 3
  • Joseph U. Kim
    • 4
  • Shawn M. McClintock
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Gerontology InstituteGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Clinical and Health PsychologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Utah School of MedicineSalt Lake CityUSA
  5. 5.Neurocognitive Research Laboratory, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Texas Southwestern Medical CenterDallasUSA
  6. 6.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesDuke University School of MedicineDurhamUSA

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