Category: Translational


Efficacy of Memory Enhancers for Declarative Memory in Depressed Outpatients

Friday, November 17
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Aqua Salon C & D, Level 3, Aqua Level

Keywords: Translational Research | Clinical Trial | Depression
Presentation Type: Symposium

Despite advances in individual and combined treatments for major depressive disorder, issues with non-response and partial-response remain relatively common, motivating the search for new treatment strategies. In this proof-of-concept study, we investigated: (1) whether the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) treatment enhancing effects of d-cycloserine (DCS) administration can be extended outside the extinction-learning paradigms where they have been primarily examined, and (2) whether the wakefulness-promoting agent modafinil can act as a memory enhancer for declarative learning. In this three-arm, randomized, clinical trial, we evaluated the relative efficacy of DCS, modafinil, and placebo for enhancing retention of learning in emotional and non-emotional declarative memory tasks as well as cognitive-therapy content. We ensured uniform delivery of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) content via computer-administered interventions for depression.  Based on preliminary data from 34 depressed adults, we did not support the efficacy of DCS for this strategy. Select learning benefits were found for modafinil, but overall benefits for the use of this putative memory enhancer were lacking.  These results will be discussed in the context of theoretical models for DCS and modafinil actions on cognition. Also, because modafinil is associated with a number of discriminable effects in addition to cognitive enhancement (i.e., feelings of vigor), context effects in relation to memory augmentation effects will be discussed.

Michael W. Otto

Boston University

Michael W. Otto, PhD, is Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Boston University. He has had a major career focus on developing and validating new psychosocial treatments for anxiety, mood, psychotic, and substance use disorders, with a particular focus on treatment refractory populations. This includes a translational research agenda investigating brain-behavior relationships in therapeutic learning. His focus on hard-to-treat conditions and principles underlying behavior-change failures led him to an additional focus on health behavior promotion, including investigations of addictive behaviors, medication adherence, sleep, and exercise. Across these health behaviors, he has been concerned with cognitive, attention, and affective factors that derail adaptive behaviors, and the factors that can rescue these processes. He also investigates exercise as an intervention for affective and addictive disorders, as well as for cognitive enhancement. He has over 400 publications spanning his research interests, and was identified as a “top producer” in the clinical empirical literature, and an ISI Highly Cited Researcher. He is a Past President of the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and is currently President of Division 12 of the American Psychological Association.


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