Affective cognition in bipolar disorder: A systematic review by the ISBD targeting cognition task force

Bipolar Disord. 2019 Dec;21(8):686-719. doi: 10.1111/bdi.12834. Epub 2019 Oct 16.


Background: Impairments in affective cognition are part of the neurocognitive profile and possible treatment targets in bipolar disorder (BD), but the findings are heterogeneous. The International Society of Bipolar Disorder (ISBD) Targeting Cognition Task Force conducted a systematic review to (i) identify the most consistent findings in affective cognition in BD, and (ii) provide suggestions for affective cognitive domains for future study and meta-analyses.

Methods: The review included original studies reporting behavioral measures of affective cognition in BD patients vs controls following the procedures of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) statement. Searches were conducted on PubMed/MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsychInfo from inception until November 2018.

Results: A total of 106 articles were included (of which nine included data for several affective domains); 41 studies assessed emotional face processing; 23 studies investigated reactivity to emotional words and images; 3 investigated explicit emotion regulation; 17 assessed implicit emotion regulation; 31 assessed reward processing and affective decision making. In general, findings were inconsistent. The most consistent findings were trait-related difficulties in facial emotion recognition and implicit emotion regulation, and impairments in reward processing and affective decision making during mood episodes. Studies using eye-tracking and facial emotion analysis revealed subtle trait-related abnormalities in emotional reactivity.

Conclusion: The ISBD Task Force recommends facial expression recognition, implicit emotion regulation, and reward processing as domains for future research and meta-analyses. An important step to aid comparability between studies in the field would be to reach consensus on an affective cognition test battery for BD.

Keywords: affective cognition; bipolar disorder; emotional cognition; reward processing; social cognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Advisory Committees
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology*
  • Cognition*
  • Decision Making
  • Emotions*
  • Facial Expression
  • Facial Recognition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reward