OBJECTIVES - Recent research has highlighted the phenotypic and genetic overlap of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Cognitive deficits in bipolar disorder parallel those seen in schizophrenia, particularly for bipolar disorder patients with a history of psychotic features. Here we explored whether relational memory deficits, which are prominent in schizophrenia, are also present in patients with psychotic bipolar disorder.
METHODS - We tested 25 patients with psychotic bipolar disorder on a relational memory paradigm previously employed to quantify deficits in schizophrenia. During the training, participants learned to associate a set of faces and background scenes. During the testing, participants viewed a single background overlaid by three trained faces and were asked to recall the matching face, which was either present (Match trials) or absent (Non-Match trials). Explicit recognition and eye-movement data were collected and compared to those for 28 schizophrenia patients and 27 healthy subjects from a previously published dataset.
RESULTS - Contrary to our prediction, we found psychotic bipolar disorder patients were less impaired in relational memory than schizophrenia subjects. Bipolar disorder subjects showed eye-movement behavior similar to healthy controls, whereas schizophrenia subjects were impaired relative to both groups. However, bipolar disorder patients with current delusions and/or hallucinations were more impaired than bipolar disorder patients not currently experiencing these symptoms.
CONCLUSIONS - We found that patients with psychotic bipolar disorder had better relational memory performance than schizophrenia patients, indicating that a history of psychotic symptoms does not lead to a significant relational memory deficit.
© 2012 John Wiley and Sons A/S.