Bipolar Disorder and Cognitive Dysfunction: A Complex Link

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Abstract

The aim of this article was to describe the current evidence regarding phenomenon of cognitive functioning and dementia in bipolar disorder (BD). Cochrane Library and PubMed searches were conducted for relevant articles, chapters, and books published before 2016. Search terms used included “bipolar disorder,” “cognitive dysfunction,” and “dementia.” At the end of the selection process, 159 studies were included in our qualitative synthesis. As result, cognitive impairments in BD have been previously considered as infrequent and limited to the affective episodes. Nowadays, there is evidence of stable and lasting cognitive dysfunctions in all phases of BD, including remission phase, particularly in the following domains: attention, memory, and executive functions. The cause of cognitive impairment in BD raises the question if it subtends a neurodevelopmental or a neurodegenerative process. Impaired cognitive functioning associated with BD may contribute significantly to functional disability, in addition to the distorted affective component usually emphasized.

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