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Processing speed and sustained attention in mood disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Beth LittleORCiD, Laura Norsworthy, Luke Corbett, Mia Schultz-Froggatt, Dr David Cousins, Dr Yujiang WangORCiD, Dr Peter GallagherORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of a conference proceedings (inc. abstract) that has been published in its final definitive form by John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 2022.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Introduction: People with mood disorders generally show broad cognitive dysfunction. Research suggests that processing speed (PS) and sustained attention (SA) may be particularly impaired in these groups and may explain wider cognitive dysfunction. However, the nature of these impairments is not well understood, with heteroge- neous methodology leading to mixed findings. We aimed to quantify impairments in PS and SA in mood disorders and review neuropsy- chological methods used in the literature. Method: We systematically reviewed existing literature that meas- ured PS and SA in adults (aged 18–65) with Bipolar Disorder (BD) and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). An electronic search of four databases (Medline, Embase, APA PsychINFO, and Web of Science) from 1994–2021 was conducted and authors were contacted. Data were synthesised to review paper characteristics and meta-analysed to investigate impairments in patient groups across various neu- ropsychological tests and mood states. Results: The search yielded N = 21,009 results after de-duplication; titles and abstracts were screened. N = 2426 full texts were screened and N = 114 studies were included. Results showed significantly poorer performance in tests of PS and SA in BD and MDD, compared to controls. This impairment was present across most neuropsycho- logical tests and in all mood states. Comparisons of patient groups and neuropsychological methods will be reported. Conclusion: Impairments in PS and SA may be a key feature of mood disorders. Further research should investigate the role of processing speed and sustained attention in wider cognitive dysfunction in BD and MDD to facilitate our understanding of the nature of cognitive dysfunction in mood disorders.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Little B, Anwyll M, Norsworthy L, Corbett L, Schultz-Froggatt M, Cousins D, Wang Y, Gallagher P

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: The 24th Annual Conference of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders

Year of Conference: 2022

Online publication date: 01/07/2022

Acceptance date: 15/04/2022

Date deposited: 13/11/2023

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/bdi.13233

ePrints DOI: 10.57711/k79g-7h70