The Danish PET/depression project: Performance on Stroop's test linked to white matter lesions in the brain

Poul Videbech, Barbara Ravnkilde, Lise Gammelgaard, Annette Egander, Karin Clemmensen, Niels Anton Rasmussen, Albert Gjedde, Raben Rosenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The Stroop test (ST) assesses the integrity of prefrontal and cingulate functioning. Patients with major depression perform poorly on the ST, pointing to disturbed function in these areas. We therefore used positron emission tomography to study 41 in-patients with major depression and 46 age- and gender-matched controls during neuropsychological activation with the ST. Magnetic resonance imaging was used for coregistration and for description of the localization of white matter lesions (WML). The cerebral blood flow (CBF) changes during ST were mapped for each of the two study groups, and inter-group differences were calculated on a voxel-by-voxel basis. The patients were followed for 3 to 5 years to ensure diagnostic stability. The control group activated anterior cingulate regions, prefrontal cortices, insula, thalamus and cerebellum. Despite the patients' slower performance with more errors, no significant differences were found comparing the activations in the two groups. The performance was, however, correlated to the number of WML in frontal lobes, insula and adjacent to the basal ganglia, whereas WML in other locations was not related to performance. We thus partly explain the poorer performance by increased frequency of WML in frontostriatal pathways in the depressed patients, impairing neurotransmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-130
Number of pages14
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 15 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Major depression
  • Neuropsychological activation
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Stroop test
  • White matter lesions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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