The volume of the hippocampus region of the brain has been linked to cognitive functioning, memory and mood regulation. “More than 30 cross-sectional MRI studies have examined hippocampus volumes in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD), and several meta-analyses have conﬁrmed that hippocampal volume is about 5%– 8% smaller in patients with major depression than in healthy controls,” said Gevrey Kiy of the Department of Neurology at Klinikum Bremen-Mitte in Germany. Manual tracing, a method of measuring hippocampal volume, has yet to accurately demonstrate a link between hippocampal volume and cognitive functioning in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). “This is somewhat surprising, because memory impairment is a core element of cognitive dysfunctioning in MS; it has been estimated that about 40% of MS patients suﬀers from deﬁcits in this cognitive domain.” Kiy added, “Manual tracing is necessary because the hippocampus is a cortical structure showing only graded grey diﬀerences in relation to surrounding structures and having no clear-cut borders in the posterior direction. On the other hand, because memory impairment and depression play a crucial role for the quality of life in MS patients, including work employment, it would be helpful to have a quick and relatively easy neuro-radiological evaluation in addition to the neuropsychological assessment.”
To identify the link between hippocampal volume and depression in people with MS, Kiy performed MRI’s on 72 clients with MS, and looked specifically at the left and right temporal horn regions. The results demonstrated a decreased hippocampal volume in the left temporal horn of the clients with depressive symptoms. But Kiy added, “The role of the hippocampus in depression is still under debate. For example, it is not clear whether the shrinking of its volume is a cause of the depression or a consequence of stress induced by depressive mood, because there are several other mental diseases, also associated with stress, that consequently should also be accompanied with a decrease in hippocampal volume, which has not been shown yet.” Kiy recognizes that the results warrant further research, but is optimistic. “In conclusion, this study indicates that an indirect measurement of hippocampal volume is associated with depression in MS patients.”
Kiy, Gevrey, Pia Lehmann, Horst K. Hahn, Paul Eling, Andreas Kastrup, and Helmut Hildebrandt. “Decreased Hippocampal Volume, Indirectly Measured, Is Associated with Depressive Symptoms and Consolidation Deficits in Multiple Sclerosis.” Multiple Sclerosis Journal 17.9 (2011): 1088-097. Print.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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