BACKGROUND: People with bipolar disorder have moderate cognitive difficulties that tend to be more pronounced during mood episodes but persist after clinical remission and affect recovery. Recent evidence suggests heterogeneity in these difficulties, but the factors underlying cognitive heterogeneity are unclear.

AIMS: To examine whether distinct cognitive profiles can be identified in a sample of euthymic individuals with bipolar disorder and examine potential differences between subgroups.

METHOD: Cognitive performance was assessed across four domains (i.e. processing speed, verbal learning/memory, working memory, executive functioning) in 80 participants. We conducted a hierarchical cluster analysis and a discriminant function analysis to identify cognitive profiles and considered differences in cognitive reserve, estimated cognitive decline from premorbid cognitive functioning, and clinical characteristics among subgroups.

RESULTS: Four discrete cognitive profiles were identified: cognitively intact (n = 25; 31.3%); selective deficits in verbal learning and memory (n = 15; 18.8%); intermediate deficits across all cognitive domains (n = 30; 37.5%); and severe deficits across all domains (n = 10; 12.5%). Cognitive decline after illness onset was greater for the intermediate and severe subgroups. Cognitive reserve scores were increasingly lower for subgroups with greater impairments. A smaller proportion of cognitively intact participants were using antipsychotic medications compared with all other subgroups.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that individuals with cognitively impaired profiles demonstrate more cognitive decline after illness onset. Cognitive reserve may be one of the factors underlying cognitive variability across people with bipolar disorder. Patients in the intermediate and severe subgroups may be in greater need of interventions targeting cognitive difficulties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalBJPsych Open
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Role of cognitive reserve in cognitive variability in euthymic individuals with bipolar disorder: cross-sectional cluster analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this