Nuclear medicine communications vol:23 issue:9 pages:907-16
Performance on the Verbal Fluency Test, as a measure of the ability of initiating processes, is reduced in depressed suicidal patients. The hampered results in this prefrontal executive task parallel the reduction in prefrontal blood perfusion and metabolism in depressed subjects. A neuropsychological activation study with the verbal fluency paradigm could evaluate a possible blunted increase in perfusion in the prefrontal cortex in depressed suicidal patients. Twenty clinically depressed patients who had recently attempted suicide and 20 healthy volunteers were included in a single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) split-dose activation study following a verbal fluency paradigm. Statistical parametric mapping was used to determine voxelwise significant changes. Differences in regional cortical activation between the letter fluency and category fluency tasks in attempted suicide patients were found. These patients showed a blunted increase in perfusion in the prefrontal cortex. Methodological restrictions concerning group uniformity, medication bias and subjective effort of the participants are discussed. Our findings indicate a blunted increase in prefrontal blood perfusion as a possible biological reason for reduced drive and loss of initiative in attempted suicide patients.