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Title: The neuropsychology of affective disorders and schizophrenia
Author: Drysdale, Emma E.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2003
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The underlying causes of major mental illness are not understood and diagnoses are made largely on the basis of characteristic clinical symptoms described by the patient. A long-standing aim of biological psychiatry is to identify clinical measurements related to illness that may assist in diagnosis in the same way that the measurement of blood glucose level is used in the diagnosis of diabetes. In genetic studies such biological markers of disease have been termed "endophenotypes". Neuropsychological impairments are well described in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. This study investigates a possible role of specific neuropsychological impairments as markers and "endophenotypes" of illness. The aims of the present study were to (a) confirm previous findings in schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder of selected cognitive impairments and effects of clinical state and medication, and (b) to establish whether members of a large family multiply affected with bipolar and unipolar affective disorder showing linkage to a chromosome 4 locus, show changes similar to the population group of bipolar and unipolar patients. Groups of forty-one unipolar affective disorder patients, thirty-seven bipolar affective disorder patients, twenty-six schizophrenic patients, fifteen high risk family members and thirty-one healthy controls were assessed with a neuropsychological test battery focussing mainly on the domains of memory and executive function. Bipolar and schizophrenic patients had similar impairments of verbal learning and memory relative to controls. Schizophrenic patients were also impaired on executive function tasks. Performance was not due to symptom severity or medication. There were no significant differences between unipolar affective disorder patients and controls. The second major finding from this work is that cognitive deficits were measured in relatives in one family who were at high genetic risk of developing bipolar disorder but who had not developed symptoms of the disorder. It can be concluded that these cognitive deficits may be considered as 'endophenotypes' in genetic studies of bipolar disorder.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available