• neuropsychology;
  • cognition;
  • bipolar disorder;
  • meta-analysis

Objective:  Although cognitive deficits are prominent in symptomatic patients with bipolar disorder, the extent and pattern of cognitive impairment in euthymic patients remain uncertain.

Method:  Neuropsychological studies comparing euthymic bipolar patients and healthy controls were evaluated. Across studies, effect sizes reflecting patient–control differences in task performance were computed for the 15 most frequently studied cognitive measures in the literature.

Results:  Across the broad cognitive domains of attention/processing speed, episodic memory, and executive functioning, medium-to-large performance effect size differences were consistently observed between patients and controls, favoring the latter. Deficits were not observed on measures of vocabulary and premorbid IQ.

Conclusion:  Meta-analytic findings provide evidence of a trait-related neuropsychological deficit in bipolar disorder involving attention/processing speed, memory, and executive function. Findings are discussed with regard to potential moderators, etiologic considerations, limitations, and future directions in neuropsychological research on bipolar disorder.