Week 6: A Nihilistic Approach to Science

Apr 16, 2021

Hi guys,

Welcome to this week’s blog. This week was more literature review (wow so fun…). At this week’s lab meeting, we discussed a paper about how social cues are represented in the brain. The paper must have been poorly written because one of the graduate students in our lab group started talking about the importance of reading research papers carefully and taking everything with a grain of salt. Because of this, I decided to listen to his advice and break down some of the previous papers I read regarding my research topics. Below are the summaries of a few key papers detailing the effect of different antidepressants on participants’ scores on memory/cognition tests. 

  • Sayyah et al., 2016: Compared the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) scores of 50 patients over an eight-week period. All the drugs tested led to a decrease in MMSE scores. The results are the following:
    • Paroxetine: 52% decline
    • Zoloft: 28% decline
    • Fluoxetine: 12% decline
    • Citalopram: 8% decline
  • Levkovitz et al., 2002: Analyzed the effect of Fluoxetine on RBMT and Paired Association test scores on 27 patients over a 6 week period. Found that fluoxetine was associated with improved memory.
  • Herrera-Guzmán et al., 2009: Analyzed the effect of Escitalopram on Wechsler adult intelligence scale (WAIS-III) scores on 36 participants over a 24 week period. Found that patients suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD) saw improvements in episodic memory. 

Okay, time to break these papers down. The most important thing to notice from the first two papers is their experimental timeframe. The experiments were done over a period of eight weeks and six weeks, respectively. However, the National Health Service reports that SSRIs typically take about 4-6 weeks to start working, and may even take 6-8 weeks for some people. This holds true from every drug mentioned in the three studies listed. Unfortunately, this means that the results obtained by the first two studies, Sayyah et al., 2016 and Levkovitz et al., 2002, cannot be completely attributed to the effect of the drugs themselves. The experiment done by Herrera-Guzmán is the only one that uses an appropriate timeframe, yet its results only hold true for those suffering from MDD. 

There is still no news about when I can go to labs, but hopefully I’ll have more information in next week’s blogs. In the meantime, thanks for reading! See you next week!


Sayyah, M., Eslami, K., AlaiShehni, S., & Kouti, L. (2016). Cognitive function before and during treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in patients with depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Psychiatry journal, 2016.

Levkovitz, Y., Caftori, R., Avital, A., & Richter-Levin, G. (2002). The SSRIs drug Fluoxetine, but not the noradrenergic tricyclic drug Desipramine, improves memory performance during acute major depression. Brain research bulletin, 58(4), 345-350.

Herrera-Guzmán, I., Gudayol-Ferré, E., Herrera-Guzmán, D., Guàrdia-Olmos, J., Hinojosa-Calvo, E., & Herrera-Abarca, J. E. (2009). Effects of selective serotonin reuptake and dual serotonergic–noradrenergic reuptake treatments on memory and mental processing speed in patients with major depressive disorder. Journal of psychiatric research, 43(9), 855-863.


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