ADHD, Comorbid Bipolar Disorder Share Similar Neurocognitive Profiles

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A neuropsychological battery assessed processing speed, working memory, executive function, verbal learning and memory, attention, and visual memory.
A neuropsychological battery assessed processing speed, working memory, executive function, verbal learning and memory, attention, and visual memory.

According to the results of a recent study published in Bipolar Disorders, people with both bipolar disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have similar neurocognitive profiles compared with people with only bipolar disorder.

In this prospective cross-sectional study, Spanish researchers enrolled 229 adults with DSM-IV-TR-diagnosed bipolar disorder (n = 70), ADHD (n = 50), both bipolar disorder and ADHD (n = 23), or no axis I disorders (n = 86). Participants underwent a neuropsychological battery of tests that assessed processing speed, working memory, executive function, verbal learning and memory, attention, and visual memory.

Compared with healthy controls, patients in all 3 clinical groups had significantly worse performance in the 6 cognitive domains. Patients with ADHD alone had significantly poorer scores in the attention domain than the other 2 clinical groups, and patients with bipolar disease alone had significantly worse visual memory impairment than those with ADHD alone (P <.001).

Executive function scores were within the normal range for patients in all 3 clinical groups, with patients with ADHD only performing significantly better than those with bipolar disorder alone (P =.003) or bipolar disorder and ADHD (P =.011).

The researchers noted no significant difference among the clinical groups concerning verbal learning and memory, working memory, and processing speed.

They concluded that "[comorbid bipolar disorder and ADHD] is more closely related to the bipolar spectrum than to ADHD. This finding has important implications from the clinical and therapeutic point of view."

Reference

Torres I, Sole B, Corrales M, et al. Are patients with bipolar disorder and comorbid attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder more neurocognitively impaired? [published online September 21, 2017] Bipolar Disord. doi: 10.1111/bdi.12540

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