The relationship between brain volumes and intelligence in bipolar disorder

Annabel Vreeker, Lucija Abramovic*, Marco P.M. Boks, Sanne Verkooijen, Annet H. van Bergen, Roel A. Ophoff, René S. Kahn, Neeltje E.M. van Haren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives Bipolar disorder type-I (BD-I) patients show a lower Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and smaller brain volumes as compared with healthy controls. Considering that in healthy individuals lower IQ is related to smaller total brain volume, it is of interest to investigate whether IQ deficits in BD-I patients are related to smaller brain volumes and to what extent smaller brain volumes can explain differences between premorbid IQ estimates and IQ after a diagnosis of BD-I. Methods Magnetic resonance imaging brain scans, IQ and premorbid IQ scores were obtained from 195 BDI patients and 160 controls. We studied the relationship of (global, cortical and subcortical) brain volumes with IQ and IQ change. Additionally, we investigated the relationship between childhood trauma, lithium- and antipsychotic use and IQ. Results Total brain volume and IQ were positively correlated in the entire sample. This correlation did not differ between patients and controls. Although brain volumes mediated the relationship between BD-I and IQ in part, the direct relationship between the diagnosis and IQ remained significant. Childhood trauma and use of lithium and antipsychotic medication did not affect the relationship between brain volumes and IQ. However, current lithium use was related to lower IQ in patients. Conclusions Our data suggest a similar relationship between brain volume and IQ in BD-I patients and controls. Smaller brain volumes only partially explain IQ deficits in patients. Therefore, our findings indicate that in addition to brain volumes and lithium use other disease factors play a role in IQ deficits in BD-I patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-64
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by NIMH grant number: R01 MH090553 (to RAO). The NIMH had no further role in study design, in the collection, analysis and interpretation of the data, in the writing of the report, and in the decision to submit the paper for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017


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