Is Psychopharmacologic Treatment Associated With Neuropsychological Deficits in Bipolar Youth?

Aude Henin, PhD; Eric Mick, ScD; Joseph Biederman, MD; Ronna Fried, EdD; Dina R. Hirshfeld-Becker, PhD; Jamie A. Micco, PhD; Katherine G. Miller, BA; Caroline C. Rycyna, BA; Janet Wozniak, MD

Published: June 30, 2009

Article Abstract

Objective: To evaluate the impact of psychopharmacologic treatments on neuropsychological functioning in bipolar youth.

Method: Participants were 173 children (aged 6-17 years) with DSM-IV bipolar disorder. Participants were comprehensively assessed using structured diagnostic interviews (Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children) and neuropsychological measures (eg, subtests of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-III and Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-III) during the years 2001-2006. Comparisons were made in neuropsychological functioning between medicated and unmedicated youth with bipolar disorder.

Results: Children who were treated with mood stabilizers performed significantly (P < .05) more poorly than untreated children on measures of processing speed and working memory. Treatment with other classes of medication, including second-generation antipsychotics, was not significantly associated with neuropsychological impairments.

Conclusions: Treatment with mood stabilizers may be associated with specific neuropsychological impairments. Cognitive side effects may need to be considered in selecting particular psychopharmacologic treatments for children with bipolar disorder.


Submitted: September 9, 2008; accepted February 13, 2009.

Online ahead of print: June 30, 2009.

Corresponding author: Aude Henin, PhD, Pediatric Psychopharmacology Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, 185 Alewife Brook Pkwy, Suite 2000, Cambridge, MA 02138 (

Volume: 70

Quick Links: Child and Adolescent , Populations

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