Executive Dysfunction in Non-Psychotic Unipolar Depressed Patients: Assessement by the Wisconsin (Berg) Card Sorting Test

  •  Marco Moniz    
  •  Saul Neves de Jesus    
  •  João Viseu    
  •  Eduardo Gonçalves    
  •  Susana Moreira    
  •  Andreia Pacheco    


Introduction: Alterations in executive functioning are frequent in depressed subjects, being the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) one of the most utilized instruments to assess it, even though, when individually compared, this test’s items did not show consistency.

Method: This study aimed to compare the performance of a group comprising 36 non-psychotic unipolar depressed patients (23 women and 13 men, with a mean age of 44.28 years old [SD = 14.78]) with 36 healthy controls (22 women and 14 men, with a mean age of 42.22 years old [SD = 15.19]) in a computerized version of WCST.

Results: We found significant differences between depressed patients and healthy controls regarding number of categories, perseverative responses, perseverative errors, non-perseverative errors, percentage of conceptual level responses and failure to maintain set, clearly influenced by the variable age, which showed a shared variance between 17% and 33% in depressive patients’ performance and between 16% and 26% in healthy controls’ performance.

Conclusions: Results allowed us to identify differences in performance between the two groups, therefore this version of the WCST revealed itself a reliable alternative to assess Executive Functions (EFs), accessible to all clinicians.

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