Assessment of social cognition in bipolar disorder

Jaquiline A. Bobyn, Bernice Fonseka, Glenda MacQueen, Stefanie Hassel

Research output: Contribution to journalConference abstractpeer-review


Background: Impairment in social cognition may contribute to deficits in social functioning in patients with bipolar disorder (BD). In this study, a complex social cognition task was administered during a neuroimaging session. The behavioral and neural correlates of social cogniton in patients with BD were compared to healthy comparison (HC) subjects.
Methods: The task was administered to 25 HC and 25 patients with depression scores ranging from euthymic to depressed at the time of assessment. The task required participants to evaluate situations that were “enhancing” or “threatening” to self-esteem, directed at both oneself, and at other people. For instance, self-esteem enhancing scenarios involved vignettes of activities such as receiving praise during a sports game, while a threatening scenario involved, for example, receiving criticism at a party. Participants were then required to evaluate characters in the scenarios on the basis of positive (“kind”) or negative (“mean”) descriptors. Evaluations were classified from extremely negative to extremely positive. The frequencies of behavioral responses were analyzed using chi-square tests and fMRI data were analyzed using Statistical Parametric Mapping software.
Results: Patients differed significantly from HCs in their evaluation of threatening scenarios, directed at both oneself and at other people (p<0.001). Patients had a lower proportion of responses in the neutral category, and more responses in the positive and negative categories, relative to HCs. Neuroimaging results reveal differential patterns of prefrontal-cortical and limbic-subcortical activation in BDs throughout the task [p<0.05 (unc.)].
Conclusions: Findings will contribute to understanding difficulty in interpersonal functioning in patients with BD.
Original languageEnglish
Article number696
Pages (from-to)S199
Number of pages1
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number9S
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2014
Event69th Annual Scientific Convention and Meeting of the Society-of-Biological-Psychiatry - New York, NY, United States
Duration: 8 May 201410 May 2014


  • bipolar
  • social
  • cognition
  • self-esteem
  • appraisal


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