Management of cognitive impairment in bipolar disorder: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials

CNS Spectr. 2021 Jan 28;1-22. doi: 10.1017/S1092852921000092. Online ahead of print.


Cognitive impairment is common in bipolar disorder and is emerging as a therapeutic target to enhance quality of life and function. A systematic search was conducted on PubMed, PsycInfo, Cochrane,, and Embase databases for blinded or open-label randomized controlled trials evaluating the pro-cognitive effects of pharmacological, neurostimulation, or psychological interventions for bipolar disorder. Twenty-two trials were identified, evaluating a total of 16 different pro-cognitive interventions. The methodological quality of the identified trials were assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool. Currently, no intervention (i.e., pharmacologic, neurostimulation, cognitive remediation) has demonstrated robust and independent pro-cognitive effects in adults with bipolar disorder. Findings are preliminary and methodological limitations limit the interpretation of results. Methodological considerations including, but not limited to, the enrichment with populations with pre-treatment cognitive impairment, as well as the inclusion of individuals who are in remission are encouraged. Future trials may also consider targeting interventions to specific cognitive subgroups and the use of biomarkers of cognitive function.

Keywords: Bipolar disorder; cognition; depression; function; randomized controlled trials.