Working memory and inhibitory control among manic and euthymic patients with bipolar disorder

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2005 Mar;11(2):163-72. doi: 10.1017/s1355617705050228.


Bipolar disorder (BPD) is a severe psychiatric illness that is characterized by episodes of extreme mood states. The affective components of bipolar disorder have been studied extensively, but only recently have investigators begun to systematically examine its cognitive concomitants. Although executive dysfunction has been reported in this population, especially while patients are manic, the tasks administered in many previous studies have made it difficult to determine the specific executive abilities that were compromised. The present study examined 15 patients with bipolar disorder who were manic, 18 who were euthymic, and 18 healthy participants. Tests were selected to evaluate two specific aspects of executive functioning in these participants. The Object Alternation Task was given as a measure of inhibitory control, and the Delayed Response Task was included as a measure of spatial delayed working memory. All groups performed similarly on the Delayed Response Task. On the Object Alternation Task, however, the manic and euthymic patients committed significantly more perseverative errors than healthy participants. These results indicated that patients in the present sample had relatively normal working memory abilities, but had a deficit in behavioral self-regulation, which was evident across mood states.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reading
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology