Cognitive function after bariatric surgery: evidence for improvement 3 years after surgery

Am J Surg. 2014 Jun;207(6):870-6. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2013.05.018. Epub 2013 Oct 10.


Background: Bariatric surgery is associated with improved cognition, and it is possible that such improvements are found at extended follow-ups. We hypothesized that cognitive improvement would be maintained 3 years after bariatric surgery.

Methods: Fifty bariatric patients were recruited from the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery parent project. Participants completed a computerized cognitive test battery to assess cognitive function at 12 weeks, 12 months, 24 months, and 36 months after surgery.

Results: Repeated measures revealed main effects for attention, executive function, and memory. Attention improved up to 24 months and then slightly declined although it still fell within the average range at 36 months. Improvements in executive function reached their peak at 36 months after surgery. Short-term improvements in memory were maintained at 36 months. No main effect emerged for language.

Conclusions: Bariatric surgery may lead to lasting improvements in cognition. Prospective studies with extended follow-ups (eg, 10 years) should examine whether bariatric surgery can attenuate cognitive decline in severely obese patients.

Keywords: Bariatric surgery; Cognitive function; Obesity; Weight loss.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bariatric Surgery*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Morbid / psychology*
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychological Tests
  • Treatment Outcome