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Revista Colombiana de Psiquiatría

Print version ISSN 0034-7450


DIAZ ORTIZ, Andrés Camilo et al. Correlation Between Cognitive Performance and Structural Neuroanatomy in Patients with Type I Bipolar Affective Disorder Treated with and Without Lithium. rev.colomb.psiquiatr. [online]. 2022, vol.51, n.2, pp.133-145.  Epub Aug 05, 2022. ISSN 0034-7450.


Lithium treatment of bipolar disorder (BD) has been associated with less impairment and fewer changes in structural brain anatomy compared to other treatments. However, the studies are heterogeneous and few assess whether these effects are related. The objective of this study was to evaluate and relate cognitive performance and structural neuroanatomy in patients treated with and without lithium.


Cross-sectional study that included 48 subjects with BD-I, of which 22 were treated with lithium and 26 without lithium. Performance was assessed on Wechsler III (WAIS III), TMT A and B (Trial Making Test) neuropsychological tests, California verbal learning test (CVLT), Rey complex figure test and Wisconsin card sorting test. Brain structures obtained by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were evaluated. The standardised mean difference (SMD) between both groups was calculated, adjusted for confounding variables using a propen-sity score, and the Spearman correlation coefficient (p) was used to assess the relationship between cognitive performance and neuroanatomical regions.


Compared to the group without lithium, the group with lithium had fewer perse-verative errors in the Wisconsin test (SMD = -0.69) and greater left and right cortical areas (SMD = 0.85; SMD = 0.92); greater surface area in the left anterior cingulate (SMD = 1.32), right medial orbitofrontal cortex (SMD = 1.17), right superior frontal gyrus (SMD = 0.82), and right and left precentral gyrus (SMD = 1.33; SMD = 0.98); greater volume of the right amyg-dala (SMD = 0.57), right hippocampus (SMD = 0.66), right putamen (SMD = 0.87) and right thalamus (SMD=.67). In the lithium group, a correlation was found with these errors and the thickness of the left precentral gyrus (p = -0.78), the volume of the right thalamus (p =-0.44), and the right amygdala (p = 0.6).


Thelithium group had better cognitive flexibility and greater dimension in some frontal and subcortical cortical regions. Furthermore, there was a moderate to high correlation between performance in this executive function and the thickness of the right precentral gyrus, and the volumes of the thalamus and the right amygdala. These findings could suggest a neuroprotective effect of lithium.

Keywords : Bipolar disorder cognitive; Lithium; Cognition; Neuropsychological tests; Executive function; Neuroanatomy.

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