Cognitive impairment in first-episode mania: a systematic review of the evidence in the acute and remission phases of the illness

Rothanthi Daglas, Murat Yucel, Susan Maree Cotton, Kelly Anne Allott, Sarah Elisabeth Hetrick, Michael Berk

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39 Citations (Scopus)


There is evidence of cognitive impairment that persists in the remission phase of bipolar disorder; however, the extent of the deficits that occur from the first onset of the disorder remains unclear. This is the first systematic review on cognitive functioning in the early stages of bipolar I disorder. The aim of the study was to identify the patterns and degree of cognitive impairment that exists from first-episode mania. Three electronic databases (MEDLINE, PsycINFO and PubMed) were systematically searched for studies published from January 1980 to June 2014. Eligible studies were separated into two groups: acute and remission. The Newcastle-Ottawa quality assessment scale was utilised to measure the quality of the included studies. A total of seven studies (three acute and four remission), including 230 first-episode mania and 345 healthy control participants, were eligible for the review. The studies in the acute phase only examined aspects of executive functioning, with impairments identified in cognitive flexibility, though not in response inhibition and verbal fluency relative to healthy controls. The most consistent finding during the remission phase was a deficit in working memory, whereas in the other domains, the findings were equivocal. Non-verbal memory and verbal fluency were not impacted in remission from first-episode mania. In conclusion, deficits are present in some but not all areas of cognitive functioning during the early stages of bipolar I disorder. Further research is warranted to understand the longitudinal trajectory of change from first-episode mania.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 18
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Bipolar Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Cognition
  • Depression
  • Early intervention
  • First episode
  • Mania

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