• Adolescence;
  • bipolar disorder;
  • information-processing;
  • memory bias;
  • longitudinal

Background:  Cognitive models of bipolar I disorder (BD) may aid in identification of children who are especially vulnerable to chronic mood dysregulation. Information-processing biases related to memory and attention likely play a role in the development and persistence of BD among adolescents; however, these biases have not been extensively studied in youth with BD.

Methods:  We administered the self-referent encoding task and the dot-probe task to adolescents with bipolar I disorder (BD, = 35) and a demographically similar healthy comparison group (HC, = 25) at baseline, and at a 1-year follow-up in a subset of this cohort (n = 22 per group).

Results:  At both baseline and 1-year follow-up, there were significant interactions of group (BD, HC) and valence of stimulus (positive, negative adjective) on endorsement and recall of self-referent adjectives. HC adolescents endorsed and recalled more positive self-referent adjectives at baseline and follow-up while adolescents with BD endorsed and recalled more negative self-referent adjectives at baseline but not follow-up. Over time, depression symptomatology was associated with impaired memory for positive self-referent adjectives. There were no group differences in attentional bias at either time points.

Conclusions:  Adolescents with BD exhibit bias away from endorsement and recall of positive adjectives, which remained stable over time and independent of mood state.