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Impaired cognitive function in healthy offspring of bipolar patients


Several recent papers report on impaired of cognitive functions in healthy offspring of patients with bipolar mood disorder [13]. The aim of this study was an assessing of the performance on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), measuring executive functions, in the offspring of bipolar patients compared with gender- and age matched healthy subjects.

Materials and methods

Fifty persons (17 male, 33 female), aged 18-52 (30 ± 7) years made the total adult offspring population of patients with bipolar mood disorder. Among them, two had a history of depressive episodes, and another eight scored positively on Mood Disorder Questionnaire [4]. The head-to-head age- and gender-matched healthy subjects were used as a comparison group. The computer version of WCST designed by Heaton et al. (1993) adapted with instructions in Polish was used in all subjects. The following domains of WCST were measured: the percentage of perseverative errors (WCST-P), the percentage of non-perseverative errors (WCST-NP), the number of correctly completed categories (WCST-CC), the percentage of conceptual level responses (WCST-%conc), and the set to the first category (WCST-1st cat).


The results in the total offspring group were significantly inferior compared to matched control group in the categories of perseverative errors (WCST-P) and conceptual responses (WCST-%conc). These differences remained significant after Bonferroni correction. The offspring of patients with some affective morbidity (n = 10) did not show differences with forty healthy patients.


The results of our study show the impairment of some aspects of executive functions, connected with prefrontal cortex activity, in healthy offspring of bipolar patients.


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Correspondence to Agnieszka Permoda-Osip.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Permoda-Osip, A., Borkowska, A. & Rybakowski, J.K. Impaired cognitive function in healthy offspring of bipolar patients. Ann Gen Psychiatry 9, S159 (2010).

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  • Executive Function
  • Mood Disorder
  • Bipolar Patient
  • Adult Offspring
  • Wisconsin Card Sort Test