Psychological Medicine

Original Articles

Gender differences in immediate memory in bipolar disorder

D. Carrusa1, T. Christodouloua1, M. Hadjulisa1, M. Haldanea1, A. Galeaa2, A. Koukopoulosa3, V. Kumaria2 and S. Frangoua1 c1

a1 Section of Neurobiology of Psychosis, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, UK

a2 Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, UK

a3 Centro Lucio Bini, Rome, Italy


Background Gender is known to modulate the clinical course and severity of bipolar disorder (BD). Although cognitive abnormalities are an established feature of BD, there is limited information regarding whether gender also influences the pattern and severity of cognitive impairment.

Method We evaluated the performance of 86 remitted patients with BD, type 1, (BD-I) (36 male and 50 female) and 46 healthy participants (21 male and 25 female) on tasks of general intellectual ability, memory encoding, recognition and retrieval, response inhibition and executive function (abstraction and perseveration). The impact of illness severity in patients was assessed using the global assessment of functioning (GAF).

Results We found a gender effect and an interaction between diagnosis and gender on immediate memory, implicating encoding and retrieval processes, both showing male BD-I patients being disadvantaged compared with female patients and healthy controls. Immediate memory correlated with GAF scores and this association was statistically significant for male BD-I patients.

Conclusions Our findings suggest that gender differences in BD-I are associated with memory function, particularly processes relating to encoding and retrieval, and may contribute to poor functional outcome particularly in men.

(Received October 11 2006)

(Revised September 23 2009)

(Accepted September 29 2009)

(Online publication November 06 2009)


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr S. Frangou, Section of Neurobiology of Psychosis (PO66), Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK. (Email: