Disturbances of visual motion perception in bipolar disorder

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While cognitive deficits have been well documented in patients with bipolar disorder, visual perception has been less well characterized. Such deficits appear in schizophrenia, which shares genetic risk factors with bipolar disorder, and may contribute to disturbances in visual cognition and learning.


The present study investigated visual perception in bipolar disorder using psychophysical tests of contrast sensitivity, dot motion discrimination, and form discrimination. The relationship of these measures to mood state, medication status, and cognitive function was investigated. Sixty-one patients with type I bipolar disorder and 67 comparison subjects were tested.


Results indicated a deficit in dot motion trajectory discrimination in both euthymic and ill individuals with bipolar disorder, as well as a global deficit in moving grating contrast sensitivity. Ill individuals with bipolar disorder were impaired in psychomotor processing, but this finding was not related to visual processing performance.


These findings could be due to disturbances in specific visual pathways involved in the processing of motion properties, or to a more general deficit which impairs processing of temporally modulated stimuli.

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