Cognitive Functioning as Predictor and Marker of Response to Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Depressive Disorders: A Systematic Review [Review]

SOURCE: General Hospital Psychiatry. 79:19-32, 2022 Nov-Dec.

AUTHORS: Toffanin T; Folesani F; Ferrara M; Belvederi Murri M; Zerbinati L; Caruso R; Nanni MG; Koch G; Fadiga L; Palagini L; Perini G; Benatti B; Dell’Osso B; Grassi L

OBJECTIVE: Cognitive performance in Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is frequently impaired and related to functional outcomes. Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) may exert its effects on MDD acting both on depressive symptoms and neurocognition. Furthermore, cognitive status could predict the therapeutic response of depressive symptoms to rTMS. However, cognitive performances as a predictor of rTMS response in MDD has not been thoroughly investigated. This review aims to evaluate the role of pre-treatment cognitive performance as a predictor of clinical response to rTMS, and the effects of rTMS on neurocognition in MDD.

METHOD: A systematic review of studies evaluating neurocognition in MDD as an outcome and/or predictor of response to rTMS was conducted using PubMed/Medline and Embase.

RESULTS: Fifty-eight articles were identified: 25 studies included neurocognition as a predictor of response to rTMS; 56 used cognitive evaluation as an outcome of rTMS. Baseline cognitive performance and cognitive improvements after rTMS predicted clinical response to rTMS. Moreover, rTMS improved cognition in MDD.

CONCLUSIONS: Cognitive assessment could predict improvement of depression in MDD patients undergoing rTMS and help selecting patients that could have beneficial effects from rTMS. A routine cognitive assessment might stratify MDD patients and track rTMS related cognitive improvement.