The role of encoding strategies in contextual memory deficits in patients with bipolar disorder
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Contextual memory is important for the encoding and retrieval of episodic memory, which is often impaired in euthymic patients with bipolar disorder (BD). The objective was to investigate the effect of low and high cognitive support on encoding in an incidental contextual memory task in euthymic patients with BD. Twenty-three patients with a BD type I diagnosis (aged 23-63 years, 17 women and 6 men) and 29 healthy controls completed a recognition memory task for context (location of a recognised object). Participants were assigned to one of two incidental encoding conditions: (1) with a binding cue to encourage the association of the object to its location (judging the degree of appropriateness of an object in relation to its location) or (2) without a binding cue (judging daily use of objects). Patients showed a deficit in incidental contextual memory in the absence of a binding cue at encoding. Under incidental encoding with the binding cue, no differences were observed between the groups for contextual memory. Contextual memory deficits in BD patients were reduced by providing cognitive support at encoding. The role of this strategy should be investigated in larger samples to evaluate its use for cognitive remediation in BD patients.
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