Brain Training Shows Promise For Patients With Bipolar Disorder

Posted on June 1, 2018

Problems with memory, executive function, and processing speed are common symptoms of bipolar disorder, and have a direct and negative impact on an individual's daily functioning and overall quality of life, and improving these cognitive dysfunctions is crucial to helping patients with bipolar disorder improve their ability to thrive in their communities.

Researchers decided to test the impact of brain exercises in the bipolar population for this study. They randomly assigned patients with bipolar disorder, aged 18-50, to either an intervention group or an active comparison group. The intervention group was asked to use a special regimen of neuroplasticity-based exercises for a total of 70 hours over the course of 24 weeks. These exercises use a "bottom-up" approach, targeting more basic cognitive processes early in the treatment to strengthen cognitive foundations, then moving on to training focused on more complex cognitive functions later in the program. The other group was asked to spend an equivalent amount of time on computerized exercises that focused on quiz-style games, like identifying locations on maps, solving basic math problems, or answering questions about popular culture.

At the end of the study, the participants in the intervention group displayed significant improvements in their overall cognitive performance as well as in specific domains, such as cognitive speed, visual learning, and memory. They also maintained cognitive improvements six months after the end of the treatment, and in some areas even showed continued improvements after.

According to lead investigator Eve Lewandowski, PhD, these findings suggest that once the brain is better able to perform cognitive tasks, it will continue to strengthen those processes even after patients stop using the treatment. In addition, the study indicates that affordable and easily accessible web-based interventions can be effective for a broad group of patients. However, she also notes that further research is needed to determine how the improvements in these cognitive skills impact work and leisure activities and daily functioning in patients with bipolar disorder.

Category(s):Bipolar, Mood Swings / Bipolar

Source material from Science Daily