Adults with severe depressive disorder perform worse on visual memory tasks than healthy adults

Adults with severe depressive disorder perform worse on visual memory tasks than healthy adults ...

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is characterized by symptoms such as dissatisfaction with thoughts and feelings, but also accompanies impairments to cognition, sensation, and perception. According to new study, MDD patients performed worse on visual memory tasks and showed higher pattern glare rates than a control group without MDD.

People with MDD can have lower performance on memory, information processing, and attention tests compared to people without MDD. However, memory impairment is one of the most common cognitive impairments experienced by individuals with MDD.

According to Min Wang and colleagues, acute depression patients have deficits in several memory areas, including but not limited to visual memory, visuospatial working memory, verbal memory, immediate memory, and delayed memory. In addition, memory impairment does not only affect function during acute episodes of the illness, as recent evidence suggests that cognitive impairment persists after symptomatic remission.

Researchers were interested in determining whether or not MDD levels would be affected by visual memory and pattern glare (visual distortions and/or physical discomfort when viewing repetitive striped patterns). For this study, researchers recruited 62 inpatients with MDD from the West China Hospital and 49 people without MDD from the community.

On any demographic variable measured (age, gender, education), the MDD patient group and the control group had no differences. MDD patients also had higher pattern glare scores overall than the control group.

When viewing repetitive stripes, someone with elevated pattern glare will experience visual perceptual or physical discomfort. Distractions when representing information can damage the visual cortex's storage and lead to disturbed working memory. Therefore, individuals with elevated pattern glare may have a visual memory impairment that is consistent and coordinated.

The authors point out several limitations to this study, including the relatively small sample size and the inclusion of only currently unmedicated MDD patients. Future work may employ a longitudinal approach to assess the impact of MDD on visual memory over time and with medication use.

Min Wang, Xiongwei Qi, Huanhuan Fan, Yikai Dou, Wanjun Guo, Qiang Wang, Eric Chen, Tao Li, and Xiaohong Ma contributed to the study.

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