Impairment of executive function but not memory in first-degree relatives of patients with bipolar I disorder and in euthymic patients with unipolar depression.
Clark L., Sarna A., Goodwin GM.
OBJECTIVE: The authors' goal was to characterize cognitive flexibility and verbal learning in relatives of patients with bipolar disorder and in euthymic patients with recurrent major depression. METHOD: The intradimensional/extradimensional shift task and California Verbal Learning Test were administered to 27 first-degree relatives of probands with bipolar I disorder, 15 euthymic outpatients with recurrent unipolar depression, and 47 healthy comparison subjects. RESULTS: The relatives of patients with bipolar I disorder and the euthymic patients with unipolar depression were more likely to fail the intradimensional/extradimensional shift task than the healthy comparison subjects. The impairments at the extradimensional shift stage were pronounced. Verbal learning, delayed recall, and recognition were unimpaired in all groups. CONCLUSIONS: Attentional set shifting may represent an endophenotype in mood disorder, related to underlying vulnerability rather than the actual disease phenotype.