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Br J Psychiatry. 2006 Nov;189:453-8.

Sustained attention and executive functions in euthymic young people with bipolar disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, NIMHANS, Bangalore 560029, India.



Persistent neuropsychological impairments have been reported in the euthymic phase of bipolar affective disorder. However, the findings have been confounded by multiple episodes, chronic illness and residual mood symptoms.


To assess sustained attention and executive functioning in euthymic young people with bipolar I disorder who had had no more than two affective episodes.


Thirty euthymic patients (with illness duration of less than 5 years and no more than two affective episodes) and 30 matched healthy individuals were assessed for sustained attention and executive functioning.


The bipolar group (mean age 22.4 years, s.d.=2.52; duration of illness 20.87 months, s.d.=14.72), showed impairment on tasks of attention and executive functioning. Multivariate logistic regression analysis demonstrated that deficits in executive functioning differentiated cases from controls. There was no correlation between residual depressive symptoms and neuropsychological performance.


Deficits in attention and executive functioning were present in young people who had experienced only a few episodes of bipolar disorder, suggesting that the deficits are possibly trait abnormalities. Whether these deficits worsen with progression of illness needs to be examined in longitudinal studies.

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