Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Daniel N. Allen

Number of Pages



Bipolar disorder is now recognized as a severe psychiatric disorder characterized by extreme mood swings and cognitive deficits, most notably in the domains of verbal learning, executive function, and sustained attention. Neurocognitive deficits have been proposed as vulnerability markers or endophenotypes for the development of bipolar disorder. However, few research studies have examined whether neurocognitive deficits also exist in individuals at risk for bipolar disorder or first-degree relatives. This study examined neurocognitive function in individuals with bipolar disorder, their first-degree relatives, and a normal control group. Results indicated that individuals with bipolar disorder and their unaffected relatives demonstrated neuropsychological deficits in comparison to the normal control group in the domains of visuospatial/constructional abilities, executive function, and visual learning and memory. In general, the unaffected relatives demonstrated an intermediate level of performance in comparison to the normal control and bipolar group. After adjustment for mood symptomotology, significant differences remained only in the visuospatial/constructional and executive function domains. Individuals with bipolar disorder also demonstrated a differential right versus left hemisphere deficit with respect to neurocognitive tasks, providing support for the theory of right hemisphere dysfunction in bipolar affective disorder. Deficits on specific neuropsychological tests, most notably Digit Symbol, Block Design, and Judgment of Line Orientation may be indicative of cognitive endophenotypes for bipolar disorder. Replication studies are needed to identify these deficits as neurocognitive phenotypes and to further examine hemispheric functioning in bipolar affective disorder.


At Risk; Bipolar I Disorder; Correlates; Disorder Individuals; Neuropsychological; Risk

Controlled Subject

Clinical psychology; Cognitive psychology; Psychobiology

File Format


File Size

4894.72 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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