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Differentiation of executive and attention impairments in affective illness

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 May 2007

SAMUEL D. R. STODDART
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Division of Neuroscience, University of Birmingham, UK
NICK J. CRADDOCK
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Division of Neuroscience, University of Birmingham, UK Department of Psychological Medicine, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, UK
LISA A. JONES*
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Division of Neuroscience, University of Birmingham, UK
*
*Address for correspondence: Dr Lisa A. Jones, Department of Psychiatry, Division of Neuroscience, University of Birmingham, Queen Elizabeth Psychiatric Hospital, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2QZ, UK. (Email: l.a.jones@bham.ac.uk)

Abstract

Background

Executive impairments have been reported in affective illness, but the influence of attention on executive performance has not been fully considered. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether executive impairments in affective illness were independent of attention impairments, and whether independent executive impairments were specific to bipolar (BP) affective illness.

Method

Forty-two individuals with major affective disorders [20 unipolar (UP) depression and 22 BP disorder] were compared with 40 healthy controls on measures of attention and executive function. None of the patients were currently experiencing an episode of affective illness.

Results

As expected, both UP and BP patient groups showed significant neuropsychological impairments relative to controls. Significant differences in performance on executive function measures were also observed between UP and BP patients, even after the influence of attention had been taken into account. These impairments were not attributable to current levels of affective symptomatology or to medication.

Conclusions

A single neuropsychological dissociation appears to be present between UP and BP affective illness, with BP individuals showing a specific executive deficit that is independent of attention impairment on the Hayling Sentence Completion Test (HSCT).

Type
Original Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2007

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