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December 1975

Memory Functions Six to Nine Months After Electroconvulsive Therapy

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1975;32(12):1557-1564. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1975.01760300095008

• Memory functions after electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) were assessed in 38 former patients who had received bilateral treatment, right unilateral treatment, or hospitalization without ECT six to nine months previously. Results of six different tests of delayed retention and remote memory provided no evidence for persisting memory impairment. Nevertheless, persons who had received bilateral ECT rated their memory as impaired significantly (P <.05) more often than did persons in the other follow-up groups. Although considerable effort was made to maximize the sensitivity of the memory tests, it is possible that, long after ECT, some impairment of memory remained that was not detected by these tests. Alternatively, it is hypothesized that the impairment of recent and remote memory initially associated with bilateral ECT could cause some persons to become more alert to subsequent memory failures and then to underestimate their memory abilities.