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Keywords:

  • bipolar I disorder;
  • familial;
  • family study;
  • first-degree relatives;
  • memory functioning;
  • psychosis

Objective:  The aim of this study was to compare the memory function of patients with familial bipolar I disorder (BD I) who had shown psychotic features, their non-psychotic, non-bipolar first-degree relatives, and normal controls.

Method:  We assessed 38 patients with a lifetime diagnosis of BD I who had experienced psychotic symptoms, 49 of their non-psychotic, non-bipolar first-degree relatives, and 44 controls. Patients and relatives were from families multiply affected with functional psychotic illness. A five-subtest short form of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale–Revised and three Wechsler Memory Scale subtests were administered to all participants.

Results:  BD I patients showed deficits in verbal memory and verbal learning but not in visual memory. Compared to controls, relatives showed worse verbal learning at a statistically significant or suggestive level and performed significantly worse in both immediate and delayed verbal memory. Similar to patients, there were no differences between the relatives and control group for visual memory.

Conclusion:  Impaired verbal memory and learning were found in patients and their relatives. These deficits may represent candidate endophenotypic markers for bipolar disorder.