Emotional memory in bipolar disorder: Impact of multiple episodes and childhood trauma
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BACKGROUND: Emotional memory is a critical amygdala-dependent cognitive function characterized by enhanced memory for emotional events coupled with retrograde amnesia. Our study aims to assess the influence of bipolar disorder (BD), trauma, and the number of mood episodes on emotional memory. METHODS: 53 subjects (33 euthymic patients with BD and 20 healthy controls) answered a clinical assessment, childhood trauma questionnaire (CTQ), and an emotional memory test composed of lists of nouns, including neutral words, one emotional (E), one preceding (E-1) and one following word (E + 1). We assessed for the influence of type, position, diagnosis, trauma, and number of mood episodes in word recall using generalized estimating equations. RESULTS: Controlling for neutral words, BD had a higher recall for E-1 (p = 0.038) and a trend for a higher recall of E (p = 0.055). There was no difference between patients with and without trauma. Patients with BD who suffered multiple mood episodes had a higher recall of E compared to patients with fewer episodes (p = 0.016). LIMITATIONS: Cross-sectional design and small sample size. CONCLUSION: Our results indicate dysfunction in emotional memory in patients with BD, particularly after multiple mood episodes. While we expected an impaired emotional memory, patients with BD showed an increased recall for emotional stimuli and events preceding them. Childhood trauma does not seem to interfere with emotional memory changes in patients with BD. Emotional memory enhancement seems to be a promising marker of progression in BD.
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