Relational memory in the early stage of psychotic bipolar disorder

Rachel A. McKinney, Suzanne N. Avery, Kristan Armstrong, Jennifer Urbano Blackford, Neil D. Woodward, Stephan Heckers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Relational memory is impaired in psychotic disorders. In non-affective psychotic disorders, relational memory deficits are present in the early stage of illness and become more pronounced in the chronic stage. Previous studies have demonstrated cognitive deficits in early-stage psychotic bipolar disorder, but it is unclear whether relational memory is impaired. We examined relational memory using a face-scene binding task in early-stage psychotic bipolar disorder patients (n = 33) and compared their performance with healthy control (n = 40) and early-stage non-affective psychosis participants (n = 40). During training, participants learned to associate faces with background scenes. During testing, participants viewed a scene overlaid by three faces and were asked to recall the matching face. Relational memory was assessed indirectly using eye movements and explicitly using forced-choice recognition. Preferential viewing of the matching face, as captured by overall proportion of viewing and viewing across time, was significantly lower in psychotic bipolar disorder than in the healthy control group. However, preferential viewing of the matching face in psychotic bipolar disorder was significantly better than in non-affective psychosis. These findings provide novel evidence that relational memory in patients with early-stage psychotic bipolar disorder is intermediate between healthy control and early-stage non-affective psychosis subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113508
JournalPsychiatry Research
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Affective psychosis
  • Early psychosis
  • Eye movements
  • Hippocampus
  • Non-affective psychosis
  • associative memory
  • first episode

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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