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Biol Psychiatry. 2004 Jan 1;55(1):32-9.

Neuropsychological performance in pediatric bipolar disorder.

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  • 1National Institute of Mental Health Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-1255, USA.



Growing awareness of childhood bipolar disorder necessitates further cognitive neuroscience research to determine unique developmental differences between pediatric and adult onset bipolar disorder. We sought to examine whether neuropsychological function in children with bipolar disorder resembles that in adults with the illness and to extend our knowledge about cognitive function in pediatric bipolar disorder.


We administered a computerized neuropsychological test battery known as the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery to a sample of 21 children and adolescents with bipolar disorder and compared them with 21 age- and gender-matched controls.


In comparison to controls, children with bipolar disorder were impaired on measures of attentional set-shifting and visuospatial memory. Post hoc analyses in pediatric bipolar disorder subjects did not show significant associations between neuropsychological performance and manic symptomatology or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder comorbidity.


Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery data presented here in pediatric bipolar disorder fit well within the broader framework of known neurocognitive deficits in adult bipolar disorder. Our pediatric bipolar disorder subjects demonstrated selective deficiencies in attentional set-shifting and visuospatial memory. Our work suggests altered ventrolateral prefrontal cortex function, especially when linked to other lesion and neuroimaging studies.

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