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Keywords:

  • attention;
  • cognition;
  • continuous performance test (CPT);
  • executive functions;
  • mood disorders;
  • neuropsychology;
  • working memory

Objectives:  Context processing is the adaptive control of current behavior through the use of prior context information. It has been found to be impaired in schizophrenia. Some studies have indicated that, compared with patients with schizophrenia, those with bipolar disorder (BPD) display a similar but less severe neuropsychological pattern of impairment. However, this cognitive dimension has not yet been examined in BPD patients in the existing literature.

Methods:  An expectancy version of the AX continuous performance test (AX-CPT) was administered to 15 bipolar outpatients and 26 healthy controls. Patients with schizophrenia, in which context processing deficits are known to occur, were used as a reference group.

Results:  Bipolar patients showed a context processing deficit relative to healthy controls, although this was less severe and generalized than in schizophrenia patients.

Conclusions:  These findings suggest there are milder impairments in context processing in BPD compared with schizophrenia. However, the severity of possible context processing deficits in BPD may have been underestimated in our sample of mostly euthymic outpatients.