Françoise Hofer

University of Geneva, Genève, Geneva, Switzerland

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Publications (4)10.65 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Whether or not cognitive impairment and brain structure changes are trait characteristics of late-life depression is still disputed. Previous studies led to conflicting data possibly because of the difference in the age of depression onset. In fact, several lines of evidence suggest that late-onset depression (LOD) is more frequently associated with neuropsychological deficits and brain pathology than early-onset depression (EOD). To date, no study explored concomitantly the cognitive profile and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) patterns in euthymic EOD and LOD patients. Using a cross-sectional design, 41 remitted outpatients (30 with EOD and 11 with LOD) were compared to 30 healthy controls. Neuropsychological evaluation concerned working memory, episodic memory, processing speed, naming capacity and executive functions. Volumetric estimates of the amygdala, hippocampus, entorhinal and anterior cingulate cortex were obtained using both voxel-based and region of interest morphometric methods. White matter hyperintensities were assessed semiquantitatively. Both cognitive performance and brain volumes were preserved in euthymic EOD patients whereas LOD patients showed a significant reduction of episodic memory capacity and a higher rate of periventricular hyperintensities compared to both controls and EOD patients. Our results support the dissociation between EOD thought to be mainly related to psychosocial factors and LOD that is characterized by increasing vascular burden and episodic memory decline.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2010 · Journal of the neurological sciences
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    ABSTRACT: Studies of cognition in bipolar disorder (BD) have reported impairments in processing speed, working memory, episodic memory, and executive function, but they have primarily focused on young and middle-aged adults. In such studies, the severity of cognitive deficits increases with the duration of illness. Therefore, one would expect more pronounced deficits in patients with longstanding BD. The first aim of the present study was to determine the pattern and the magnitude of cognitive impairment in older euthymic BD patients. The second aim was to explore the interrelationship between these cognitive deficits and determine whether they reflect a single core impairment or the co-occurrence of independent cognitive deficits. Twenty-two euthymic elderly BD patients and 22 controls, matched for gender, age, and education, underwent a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment. Compared to controls, BD patients had significantly reduced performance in processing speed, working memory, verbal fluency, and episodic memory, but not in executive function. Hierarchical regression analyses showed that verbal fluency and working memory impairments were fully mediated by changes in processing speed. This was not the case for the episodic memory dysfunction. The cognitive profile in older euthymic BD cases is similar to the one described in younger BD cohorts. Our results further suggest that impaired processing speed plays a major role in the cognitive changes observed in BD patients except for deficits in episodic memory, thus providing strong evidence that processing speed and episodic memory are two core deficits in elderly BD patients.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2009 · Bipolar Disorders
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    ABSTRACT: It has been reported in the literature that executive functions may be fractioned into updating, shifting, and inhibition. The present study aimed to explore whether these executive sub-components can be identified in a more age-heterogeneous sample and see if they are prone to an age-related decline. We tested the performances of 81 individuals aged from 18 to 88 years old in each executive sub-component, working memory, fluid intelligence and processing speed. Correlation analysis revealed only a slight positive relationship between the two updating measures. A linear decrement with age was observed only for two complex executive tests. Tasks indexing working memory, processing speed and fluid intelligence showed a stronger linear decline with age than executive tasks. In conclusion, our results did not replicate the executive structure known from the literature, and revealed that decrement in executive function is not an unavoidable concomitant of aging but rather concerns specific executive tasks.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2008 · Archives of gerontology and geriatrics
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    ABSTRACT: While cognitive dysfunction in late-onset depression (LOD) is common, the nature and determinants of this impairment are heterogeneous. It has been suggested that neuropsychological decrements in LOD patients might result from a deficit in processing resources. In order to address this issue, we analyzed processing resources in LOD to see if their decrease explains higher-level cognition (episodic memory and naming capacity) deficits. Measures of processing speed, working memory, inhibition, episodic memory and naming capacity were administered to 14 LOD inpatients and 14 controls. The LOD patients performed significantly worse than the controls in all domains except for inhibition. Hierarchical regression analyses showed that naming capacity impairment was totally mediated by processing speed and working memory, whereas episodic memory dysfunction was only partially mediated by working memory. The reduction in certain processing resources (working memory, processing speed) in late-onset depressed patients appears to mediate impairments in episodic memory and naming capacity. However, episodic memory impairment cannot only be explained by processing resource decrement in LOD patients, suggesting that a primary episodic memory dysfunction is present in this condition.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2008 · European Neurology