Association between increased theta cordance and early response to ECT in late-life depression

Michael J. Ward, Helmet T. Karim, Zachary F. Jessen, Avniel Singh Ghuman, R. Mark Richardson, Charles F. Reynolds, Jordan F. Karp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objectives: More than half of patients with major depression who do not respond to initial antidepressants become treatment resistant (TRD), and while electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is effective, it involves anesthesia and other medical risks that are of concern in geriatric patients. Past studies have suggested that theta cordance (TC), a correlate of cerebral metabolism measured by electroencephalography, could guide treatment decisions related to patient selection and engagement of the therapeutic target. Methods/Design: Eight patients with late-life treatment resistant depression (LL-TRD) underwent magnetoencephalography (MEG) at baseline and following seven sessions of ECT. We tested whether the mean and regional frontal cortex TC were able to differentiate early responders from nonresponders. Results: Five patients whose depression severity decreased by >30% after seven sessions were considered early responders. We found no baseline differences in mean frontal TC between early responders compared with nonresponders, but early responders exhibited a significant increase in TC following ECT. Further, we found that compared with nonresponders, early responders exhibited a greater change in TC specifically within the right prefrontal cortex. Conclusions: These results support the hypothesis that increases in frontal TC are associated with antidepressant response. We expand on previous findings by showing that this change is specific to the right prefrontal cortex. Validation of this neural marker could contribute to improved ECT outcomes, by informing early clinical decisions about the acute efficacy of this treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-152
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • ECT
  • depression
  • late life
  • neural marker
  • theta cordance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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