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July 1977

Pharmacotherapy for Organic Brain Syndrome in Late LifeEvaluation of an Ergot Derivative vs Placebo

Author Affiliations

From the Texas Research Institute of Mental Sciences, Houston (Drs Gaitz and Varner); and the Department of Psychiatry, Psychometric Laboratory, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston (Dr Overall).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1977;34(7):839-845. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1977.01770190101010

• Evaluation of treatment modalities, including pharmacotherapy, for organic brain syndrome (OBS) has been difficult because of sampling and methodological problems, and comparisons of research studies are all but impossible. In this study, an ergot derivative, a combination of dihydroergocornine mesylate, dihydroergocristine mesylate, and dihydroergokryptine mesylate (Hydergine) was compared with placebo, using a double-blind technique in a sample of nursing home residents with evidence of OBS. An 18-category symptom rating scale was used for periodic assessment over a six-month interval. Comparisons of the two groups of subjects disclosed that the Hyderginetreated group showed statistically significantly more improvement in most of the variables measured, especially during the last three months of treatment. Furthermore, sophisticated analysis revealed that positive changes in cognitive function cannot be accounted for as a mere reflection, or "halo" effect, associated with improved mood and general sense of well-being.