Objectives: The literature reports persistent cognitive impairments in patients with bipolar disorder even after prolonged remission. However, a majority of studies have focused only on bipolar I disorder (BP-I), primarily because bipolar II disorder (BP-II) is often underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed. More attention should be paid to the differences between BP-I and BP-II, especially the aspects of neuropsychological functioning. We examined the different neuropsychological functions in BP-I and BP-II patients and compared them with those of healthy controls.
Methods: The study included 67 patients with interepisode bipolar disorder (BP-I: n = 30; BP-II: n = 37) and 22 healthy controls compared using a battery of neuropsychological tests that assessed memory, psychomotor speed, and certain aspects of frontal executive function.
Results: The BP-I group performed poorly on verbal memory, psychomotor speed, and executive function compared to the BP-II and control groups. Both bipolar groups performed significantly less well than the control group on measures of working memory and psychomotor speed, while the BP-II group showed an intermediate level of performance in psychomotor speed compared to the BP-I and control groups. There was no difference between the groups on visual memory.
Conclusions: BP-I was characterized by reduced performance in verbal memory, working memory, psychomotor speed, and executive function, while BP-II patients showed a reduction only in working memory and psychomotor speed. Cognitive impairment existed in both subtypes of bipolar disorder, and was greater in BP-I patients. Rehabilitation interventions should take into account potential cognitive differences between these bipolar subtypes.