This study was conducted to elucidate the effects of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) on frontal white matter in late-life depressed patients. Diffusion tensor imaging was performed on 8 late-life depressed patients and 12 healthy age-matched controls. The patients were scanned before and after a course of ECT. Fractional anisotropy (FA) was determined in the frontal and temporal regions and the corpus callosum. A significant white matter FA reduction was found in widespread frontal and temporal brain regions in patients with depression before ECT treatment compared with controls. A significant increase in frontal white matter FA was seen following ECT treatment. A course of bilateral ECT ameliorated white matter integrity in frontal brain regions. This suggests a strong relationship with the antidepressant action of ECT.
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