University Of Tasmania
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Systematic Review of Cognitive Function in Euthymic Bipolar Disorder and Pre-Surgical Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

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Background: Bipolar disorder (BD) and temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) overlap in domains including epidemiology, treatment response, shared neurotransmitter involvement and temporal lobe pathology. Comparison of cognitive function in both disorders may indicate temporal lobe mediated processes relevant to BD. This systematic review examines neuropsychological test profiles in euthymic bipolar disorder type I (BD-I) and pre-surgical TLE and compares experimental designs used.

Methods: A search of PubMed, PsychINFO, and Scopus using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines was conducted. Inclusion criteria were comparison group or pre- to post-surgical patients; reported neuropsychological tests; participants aged 18–60 years. Fifty six studies met criteria: 27 BD-I; 29 TLE.

Results: Deficits in BD-I compared to healthy controls (HC) were in executive function, attention span and verbal memory. Deficits in TLE compared to HC were in executive function and memory. In the pre- to post-surgical comparisons, verbal memory in left temporal lobe (LTL) and, less consistently, visuospatial memory in right temporal lobe (RTL) epilepsy declined following surgery. BD-I studies used comprehensive test batteries in well-defined euthymic patients compared to matched HC groups. TLE studies used convenience samples pre- to post-surgery, comparing LTL and RTL subgroups, few included comparisons to HC (5 studies). TLE studies typically examined a narrow range of known temporal lobe-mediated neuropsychological functions, particularly verbal and visuospatial memory.

Conclusion: Both disorders exhibit deficits in executive function and verbal memory suggestive of both frontal and temporal lobe involvement. However, deficits in TLE are measured pre- to post-surgery and not controlled at baseline pre-surgery. Further research involving a head-to-head comparison of the two disorders on a broad range of neuropsychological tests is needed to clarify the nature and extent of cognitive deficits and potential overlaps.


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Frontiers in Psychiatry



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School of Psychological Sciences


Frontiers Research Foundation

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Rights statement

Copyright 2017 Bostock, Kirkby, Garry and Taylor. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Mental health