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Can J Psychiatry. 2004 Dec;49(12):813-9.

Bipolar disorder: it's all in your mind? The neuropsychological profile of a biological disorder.

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  • 1Black Dog Institute, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, Australia.



To compare and contrast the neuropsychological profile of the 3 phases of bipolar disorder (BD) to achieve a better definition of BD and to identify potential state and trait deficits.


We conducted a search for English-language papers published in journals from 1965 onward, using the following terms in Medline and Embase: neuropsychology or neuropsychological and BD, depression, mania, and euthymia. We scrutinized suitable subheadings and retrieved familiar papers and literature.


We initially identified more than 100 articles and then excluded reviews and papers that did not directly administer neuropsychological tests. This left 27 papers, which we further examined and the findings of which we tabulated and discussed. Cognitive and executive functioning deficits were found, including set-shifting, verbal fluency, planning, attention, and memory.


The neuropsychological deficits found in bipolar depression, mania or hypomania, and euthymia provide important insights into the pathophysiology of BD and may, in future studies, form the basis of clinically meaningful subtypes.

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