Neurocognitive function in pediatric bipolar disorder: 3-year follow-up shows cognitive development lagging behind healthy youths

Mani N. Pavuluri, Amy West, S. Kristian Hill, Kittu Jindal, John A. Sweeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Objective: Longitudinal follow-up of neurocognltive functioning in people with pediatric bipolar disorder (PBD) was conducted to characterize the developmental trajectory of cognitive disabilities in this disorder. Method: Patients with PBD (n = 26) and controls (HC; n = 17; mean age 11.66 ± 2.70 years) completed cognitive testing at baseline and then again at a 3-year follow-up. Groups were matched at baseline on age, sex, race, parental socioeconomic status, general intelligence, and single-word reading ability. The PBD group received treatment guided by a standardized medication algorithm during the 3-year period. A battery of neuropsychological tests was administered to assess attention, executive function, working memory, verbal memory, visual memory, and visuospatial perception at baseline and follow-up. Results: At baseline and follow-up, the patients showed deficits in all of the examined domains. At 3-year follow-up, developmental progress in executive functions and verbal memory was significantly less in the patients with PBD than in the HC. Improvement on attention, working memory, visual memory, and visuospatial perception tasks in the patients with PBD was comparable to that of the HC, but the patients with PBD remained impaired in all domains relative to the HC. Conclusions: The developmental delay in some neurocognitive functioning in PBD suggests that the illness disrupts cognitive development with potential lifelong implications for reduced functional ability. Treating bipolar symptoms does not seem to prevent the lag in cognitive development. This dysmaturation may be a direct effect of the illness on brain function, or it may represent indirect consequences of psychopathology or medications on cognitive development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-307
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Bipolar
  • Cognition
  • Development
  • Neurocognitive

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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