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Meta-analysis of longitudinal studies of cognition in bipolar disorder: comparison with healthy controls and schizophrenia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 June 2017

E. Bora*
Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, Turkey Department of Psychiatry, Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre, University of Melbourne and Melbourne Health, Carlton South, Victoria 3053, Australia
A. Özerdem
Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, Turkey Department of Neurosciences, Dokuz Eylul University, Health Sciences Institute, Izmir, Turkey
*Address for correspondence: Dr E. Bora, Dokuz Eylul Universitesi Tip Fakultesi, Psikiyatri Anabilimdali, Mithatpaşa cad. no 1606 inciraltı yerleşkesi 35340 Balçova/İzmir, Turkey. (Email:,



Bipolar disorder (BP) is associated with significant cognitive impairment. Recent evidence suggests that cognitive deficits are already evident after first-episode mania. However, it is not clear whether BP is associated with further decline in cognitive functions in individuals with established illness. Aim of this meta-analytic review was to examine longitudinal neurocognitive changes in BP and to compare trajectory of cognitive deficits in BP with schizophrenia and healthy controls.


Electronic databases were searched for the studies published between January 1987 and November 2016. In total 22 reports were included in the current meta-analysis. The main analysis assessed the longitudinal change in cognition in 643 patients with BP. Further analyses were conducted in studies investigating cognitive changes in BP along with healthy controls (459 BP and 367 healthy controls) and schizophrenia (172 BP and 168 schizophrenia).


There was no cognitive decline overtime neither in short-term (mean duration = 1.5 years) nor in long-term (mean duration = 5.5 years) follow-up studies in BP. In contrast, there was evidence for modest improvements in task performance in memory and working memory at follow-up. The trajectory of cognitive functioning in BP was not significantly different from changes in schizophrenia and healthy controls.


Together with the findings in early BP and individuals at genetic risk for BP, current findings suggest that neurodevelopmental factors might play a significant role in cognitive deficits in BP and do not support the notion of progressive cognitive decline in most patients with BP.

Review Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

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