Study: Bipolar patients with high cognitive reserve exhibit better cognitive functioning

Study: Bipolar patients with high cognitive reserve exhibit better cognitive functioning

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), bipolar disorder or manic depressive disorder affects 2.6% of the adult Americans. People afflicted with the disorder experience prolonged periods of intense emotions, fluctuations in mood and sleep, constant irritability, difficulty in focus and shift in energy. Past research has indicated how brains of people with bipolar disorder are different from the healthy lot.

A group of scientists in their study, titled “High cognitive reserve in bipolar disorders as a moderator of neurocognitive impairment” have suggested that those afflicted with bipolar disorder with high level of cognitive reserve exhibit better performance in tests evaluating attention span, verbal coherence and memory levels when compared with those with low cognitive reserve levels. The study findings got published online in the Journal of Affective Disorders in January 2017.

Bipolar patients with high cognitive reserve likely to be detected later

The study indicates how cognitive reserve might help in understanding neurocognitive performance in those suffering from premorbid bipolar disorder. To examine the possibilities, the scientists enrolled 102 respondents from the Bipolar Disorders Program of the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona who were detected with Bipolar Disorder I and Bipolar Disorder II and had been euthymic for six months. They also looked at 32 people who had not exhibited signs of bipolar disorder. The respondents were made to undergo a neuropsychological assessment that evaluated premorbid IQ, frontal executive functions, working memory, verbal fluidity, verbal learning, attention level and memory.

The Cerebral Reserve Score (CRS) of the respondents was evaluated from rough estimation of their IQ levels, educational levels and degree of achievement in their respective occupations. A group CRS median was then evaluated. The participants with CRS more than the median were deemed to have high cognitive reserve, while those with CRS below the median were deemed to have low cognitive reserve levels. The study revealed that those with high cognitive reserve paid more attention, performed better in terms of phonemic and semantic verbal flow and memory levels.

One of the co-authors of the study, Dr. Iria Grande from the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, elaborated that the concept of cognitive reserve may explain why bipolar patients have a different capacity to deal with neuropathology. She and her colleagues also revealed that as in case of Alzheimer’s disease, neurocognitive decline in patients suffering from bipolar disorder with greater cognitive reserve may be detected later in life as compared with patients diagnosed with low cognitive reserve.

Further research is required to confirm the findings

The study has its limitations in the sense that the sample size is small, thus, rendering inadequacy to the accuracy of the observations made. Moreover, the findings do not indicate the cause-and-effect association. Moreover, it doesn’t take into consideration the medical interventions being made and the possibility of co-occurring substance use disorders on cognitive reserve levels.

Although the study is in its nascent stage, the researchers are hopeful that “Specific programs addressed to improve cognition and functioning conducted in the early stages of the illness, or even at a premorbid stage in patients at risk for bipolar disorder, may be highly valuable in order to boost cognitive reserve and thus, prevent cognitive decline.”

Recovery road map

Mental disorders can strike anybody irrespective of age, race, gender or socio-economic background. It is imperative to diagnose symptoms at an early stage to provide effective treatment and improve the quality of life of those suffering.

If you or your loved one is showing signs of a mental illness, you may seek help from the Colorado Mental Health Help right away. You can dial our 24/7 helpline number 866-899-5063 and our experts will help you in connecting to one of the best mental health treatment centers in Colorado. You may also chat online with our counselors for more information about mental health rehab in Colorado that can help one live a happy and fulfilling life.