Cognitive performance in euthymic patients with bipolar disorder vs healthy controls: A neuropsychological investigation

M. Carlotta Palazzo, Chiara Arici, Laura Cremaschi, Marta Cristoffanini, Cristina Dobrea, Bernardo Dell'Osso, A. Carlo Altamura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Cognitive impairment may affect patients with Bipolar Disorder (BD) beyond the acute episodes, qualifying as a potential endophenotype. However, which cognitive domains are specifically affected in euthymic patients with BD and the potential influence of confounding factors (e.g., age and concomitant pharmacological treatment) are still a matter of debate. The present study was, therefore, conducted to assess cognitive performance across specific domains in euthymic bipolar patients, not older than 50 years (to avoid potential age-related bias) versus healthy controls (HCs). Methods: A cognitive task battery, including the Wisconsin Card Test, Span Attention Test, Tower of London, Trail Making Test, Verbal Fluency Test, Matrices Scores and N-Back, was administered to 62 subjects (30 bipolar patients and 32 matched HCs) and differences between the groups analyzed. Results: Bipolar patients performed significantly worse than HCs in the Span Forward task, in the expression of Verbal Fluency Test (Category) and in the N-Back task (all p<.05), with marginal differences between BD I and BD II patients. Conclusion: The present study pointed out significant differences in terms of cognitive performance between euthymic bipolar patients and HCs, supporting the notion that specific cognitive functions may remain impaired even after the resolution of the acute episodes in subjects suffering from BD. Future studies on larger samples are warranted to confirm the present results and further explore potential differences in cognitive impairment across specific bipolar subtypes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-81
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Bipolar Disorder (BD)
  • Bipolar subtypes
  • Cognitive functioning
  • Euthymia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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