Introduction: The widely-supported vascular depression hypothesis is underspecified with respect to cognitive mechanisms by which high cerebrovascular burden (CVB) and neuropathology relate to depressive symptoms. Integration of the vascular depression hypothesis with the CaR-FA-X model, a framework of affect regulation mechanisms, suggest that Rumination (R) and executive dysfunction (X) may increase due to altered recruitment of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex resulting from high CVB and underlying neuropathology. This process would contribute to depressive symptomatology among older adults with high CVB. The progression of examined hypotheses included mediation models examining mechanistic relationships between predictors (CVB, DLPFC activation), cognitive correlates (rumination, executive functioning), and affective outcomes (depressive symptoms). Method: A sample of 52 community-dwelling, stroke-free, individuals over the age of 70, without history of severe mental illness, dementia, or severe cognitive impairment, completed the Ruminative Responses Scale, provided self-reported cerebrovascular burden data (cardiac disease, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol), and completed executive function tasks (Stroop, Flanker) while their hemodynamic response was measured using fNIRS. The Geriatric Depression Scale was used to assess depressive symptomatology. Prefrontal cortical recruitment was assessed using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). Results: A progression of conventional and bootstrapped regression-based models broadly supported relationships between CVB and depressive symptoms, but not between DLPFC activation and depressive symptoms. No mechanistic relationships were found, with respect to analyses testing prospective cognitive mediators. Conclusions: Primary findings from this study indicate that cerebrovascular burden predicts depressive symptomatology among older adults and is related to a reduction in inhibitory control ability. Further, these findings inform CVB measurement and mental health implications of contrasting approaches to CVB measurement. A primary contribution of this thesis is that results appear to support utilization of fNIRS, a low-cost and accessible neuroimaging paradigm, for the study of lateralized cognition among older adults.
Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Brush, David, "Rumination and executive dysfunction: Risk factors for vascular depression" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5842.