Background: The orbital frontal cortex is involved with processing of performance feedback. This study tests the hypothesis that older depressed subjects, compared with elderly control subjects, commit more subsequent errors after receiving feedback from an initial error.
Methods: We administered 116 older depressed patients and 139 control subjects the Trail Making Test Part B (TRAILS-B). Subjects who committed an error on TRAILS-B were immediately given feedback on performance. We then measured the frequency of making an error on the subsequent three tries. The likelihood of making any subsequent error was examined.
Results: After controlling for the overall initial error rate, more depressed patients than control subjects made subsequent errors. This association remained significant in later regression models. When the depressed group was examined in additional models, severity of depression was not associated with increased subsequent errors.
Conclusions: These results extend previous findings suggesting a performance feedback deficit in geriatric depression. The findings support previous studies linking the orbital frontal cortex and depression.
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Accepted: April 6, 2001
Received in revised form: April 2, 2001
Received: December 5, 2000
© 2001 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.