Objective: The antidepressant action of ECT may be related to its anticonvulsant properties. Positron emission tomography (PET) studies of regional cerebral metabolic rate for glucose were used to test this hypothesis.
Method: Ten patients with major depression were studied with PET before and approximately 5 days after a course of bilateral ECT. Statistical parametric mapping was used to identify regions of decreased cerebral glucose metabolism.
Results: Widespread regions of decreased regional cerebral glucose metabolism were identified after ECT, especially in the frontal and parietal cortex, anterior and posterior cingulate gyrus, and left temporal cortex. A region-of-interest analysis similarly indicated post-ECT reductions in regional cerebral glucose metabolism.
Conclusions: ECT reduces neuronal activity in selected cortical regions, a potential anticonvulsant and antidepressant effect.