Brain Morphological Characteristics of Cognitive Subgroups of Schizophrenia-Spectrum Disorders and Bipolar Disorder: A Systematic Review with Narrative Synthesis

Neuropsychol Rev. 2023 Mar;33(1):192-220. doi: 10.1007/s11065-021-09533-0. Epub 2022 Feb 22.


Despite a growing body of research, there is yet to be a cohesive synthesis of studies examining differences in brain morphology according to patterns of cognitive function among both schizophrenia-spectrum disorder (SSD) and bipolar disorder (BD) individuals. We aimed to provide a systematic overview of the morphological differences-inclusive of grey and white matter volume, cortical thickness, and cortical surface area-between cognitive subgroups of these disorders and healthy controls, and between cognitive subgroups themselves. An initial search of PubMed and Scopus databases resulted in 1486 articles of which 20 met inclusion criteria and were reviewed in detail. The findings of this review do not provide strong evidence that cognitive subgroups of SSD or BD map to unique patterns of brain morphology. There is preliminary evidence to suggest that reductions in cortical thickness may be more strongly associated with cognitive impairment, whilst volumetric deficits may be largely tied to the presence of disease.

Keywords: Bipolar disorder; Cognition; Cognitive subgroups; Heterogeneity; Morphology; Schizophrenia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bipolar Disorder* / complications
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Dysfunction*
  • Humans
  • Schizophrenia* / complications
  • White Matter*