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Enhancing Executive Function and Neural Health in Bipolar Disorder through Reasoning Training

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Erin E. Venza, Sandra B. Chapman, Sina Aslan, Jennifer E. Zientz, David L. Tyler and Jeffrey S. Spence

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Overview

Cognitive deficits in executive function and memory among individuals with bipolar disorder (BD) are well-documented; however, only recently have efforts begun to address whether such cognitive deficits can be ameliorated through cognitive training. This pilot study examined the effects of a top-down, cognitive reasoning training program in adults with BD on both brain and cognitive measures. Twenty-seven participants (11 males, 16 females), aged 21–70 years old, completed the study. Participants completed neurocognitive testing and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before and after training, consisting of 8 h (2 h/week) of training in small groups. The training delivered information processing strategies that were implemented and applicable to a variety of daily living contexts. Results indicated that participants showed significant gains in the primary outcome measure of complex abstraction, also referred to as gist reasoning, as well as in untrained domains of executive function and memory. We found a significant increase in resting cerebral blood flow (CBF) in left inferior frontal gyrus after cognitive training. We also found that resting CBF in the right frontal middle gyrus correlated positively with performance on the measure of complex abstraction. This feasibility study provides promising evidence that short-term reasoning training can enhance cognitive performance and brain health in adults with BD. These data motivate further efforts to explore adjuvant therapeutics to improve cognitive performance and underlying brain systems in bipolar, as well as other psychiatric disorders.
Results of cerebral blood flow (CBF) voxel based comparison superimposed on T1 image. Bipolar disorder (BD) participants showed a CBF increase in left inferior frontal gyrus from T1 to T2 after cognitive training, p < 0.05 (FWE cluster corrected) and k ≥ 11,592 mm3.

Results of cerebral blood flow (CBF) voxel based comparison superimposed on T1 image. Bipolar disorder (BD) participants showed a CBF increase in left inferior frontal gyrus from T1 to T2 after cognitive training, p < 0.05 (FWE cluster corrected) and k ≥ 11,592 mm3.

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AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT
Erin Venza in a black blouse with lights, vertical. Lead Clinician

Erin Venza, MS, CCC-SLP

Head of Clinical Operations

Sandi Chapman with blue jacket and green/blue lights, horizontal. Founder and Chief Director, Center for BrainHealth, Co-Leader, The BrainHealth Project Dee Wyly Distinguished Professor

Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD

Chief Director Dee Wyly Distinguished Professor, School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences Co-Leader, The BrainHealth Project