A review of longitudinal electroconvulsive therapy: neuroimaging investigations. Academic Article Review uri icon


  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is the most effective treatment for a depressive episode but the mechanism of action and neural correlates of response are poorly understood. Different theories have suggested that anticonvulsant properties or neurotrophic effects are related to the unique mechanism of action of ECT. This review assessed longitudinal imaging investigations (both structural and functional) associated with ECT response published from 2002 to August 2013. We identified 26 investigations that used a variety of different imaging modalities and data analysis methods. Despite these methodological differences, we summarized the major findings of each investigation and identified common patterns that exist across multiple investigations. The ECT response is associated with decreased frontal perfusion, metabolism, and functional connectivity and increased volume and neuronal chemical metabolites. The general collective of longitudinal neuroimaging investigations support both the anticonvulsant and the neurotrophic effects of ECT. We propose a conceptual framework that integrates these seemingly contradictory hypotheses.

publication date

  • March 2014