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Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Oct 15;62(8):910-6. Epub 2007 Jun 1.

The neurocognitive signature of psychotic bipolar disorder.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas 78229-3900, USA.



Psychotic bipolar disorder may represent a neurobiologically distinct subgroup of bipolar affective illness. We sought to ascertain the profile of cognitive impairment in patients with bipolar disorder and to determine whether a distinct profile of cognitive deficits characterizes bipolar patients with a history of psychosis.


Sixty-nine outpatients with bipolar I disorder (34 with a history of psychotic symptoms and 35 with no history of psychosis) and 35 healthy comparison subjects underwent a comprehensive neurocognitive battery. All three groups were demographically matched.


Despite preserved general intellectual function, bipolar I patients overall showed moderate impairments on tests of episodic memory and specific executive measures (average effect size = .58), and moderate to severe deficits on attentional and processing speed tasks (average effect size = .82). Bipolar I patients with a history of psychosis were impaired on measures of executive functioning and spatial working memory compared with bipolar patients without history of psychosis.


Psychotic bipolar disorder was associated with differential impairment on tasks requiring frontal/executive processing, suggesting that psychotic symptoms may have neural correlates that are at least partially independent of those associated with bipolar I disorder more generally. However, deficits in attention, psychomotor speed, and memory appear to be part of the broader disease phenotype in patients with bipolar disorder.

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