Effects of magnetic seizure therapy on anterograde and retrograde amnesia in treatment-resistant depression

Sarah Kayser, Bettina H. Bewernick, Stefanie Wagner, Thomas E. Schlaepfer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is the gold standard for treatment-resistant depression (TRD). However, cognitive side effects, mainly anterograde and retrograde amnesia, frequently occur. Magnetic seizure therapy (MST) is tested using more focal seizure induction. However, the suggestion MST may be more beneficial than ECT because it causes fewer amnesia have not yet been comprehensively investigated using common neuropsychological testing specifically for ECT. We aimed to examine whether MST causes anterograde and retrograde amnesia. Methods: Ten patients with TRD were treated with MST (8.9 [2] treatments) at 100% machine output, a frequency of 100 Hz and 657.4 (62) pulses per train. The short form of the Autobiographical Memory Inventory was administered to test retrograde amnesia. Furthermore, an extended neuropsychological test battery, including verbal and nonverbal recall as well as recognition tasks, was used. Results: We observed changes in retrograde amnesia, although they were not clinically relevant (mean: −0.42 ± 0.14). Furthermore, no anterograde amnesia as well as no effects on global cognitive status, attention, language, and executive functions after MST were measured. Conclusions: The cognitive safety and efficacy of MST in patients with TRD were indicated. However, the main limitations of the present study were the small sample and as a consequence, the low statistical power to detect changes after treatment. Therefore, our findings require replication in further studies. In addition, a direct comparison between MST and ECT in a larger sample should be performed before MST can be discussed as an alternative treatment approach to ECT in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-133
Number of pages9
JournalDepression and anxiety
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • adverse event
  • brain stimulation
  • cognition
  • mood disorder
  • safety
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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