Affective temperaments linked to neurocognition in BD

Affective temperaments are correlated with neurocognitive functioning in people with bipolar disorder (BD), clinical research suggests.

Interestingly, the nature of these correlations differed between BD patients and healthy controls, a finding with implications for the neural and genetic mechanisms underlying the disorder, say the study authors.

The research involved 64 patients with BD (currently euthymic) and 109 mentally healthy controls who were assessed using the Temperamental Evaluation of Memphis, Pisa, Paris, and San Diego-Autoquestionnaire (TEMPS-A) for five affective temperaments: anxious, irritable, cyclothymic, hyperthymic and depressive.

Participants were also evaluated for neurocognition using the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB).

Writing in the Journal of Affective Disorders, Manuela Russo (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, USA) and colleagues report that BD patients and healthy controls were similar with regard to gender, age, race and premorbid IQ.

Although BD patients were stable at the time of assessment, they scored significantly higher than controls for depressive and manic symptoms, and higher than controls for all affective temperaments except hyperthymia.

In terms of cognitive performance, BD patients performed worse than controls in all domains except for visual memory, reasoning and problem-solving; in these latter three categories the groups were equivalent.

Among BD patients, higher levels of cyclothymia and hyperthymia were positively correlated with cognitive performance while higher levels of depression and anxiety were negatively associated with cognition.

Conversely, in controls, increased irritability was related to worse performance on measures of attention and social cognition.

Taken together, the findings “appear to confirm that most affective temperaments are significantly higher in patients with BD compared to healthy controls” and that affective temperament “is significantly associated with several neurocognitive domains in euthymic BD”, say the authors.

“Moreover, our findings suggest a differential pattern of the relationship between the irritable temperament and neurocognition in healthy controls versus patients with BD”, they write, adding: “Such a discrepancy in the association between temperaments and cognition in patients with BD and in healthy controls is perhaps relevant to the question of whether affective temperaments are dimensions of normality or pathology.”

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