Amygdala volume and verbal memory performance in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder

William D.S. Killgore, Isabelle M. Rosso, Staci A. Gruber, Deborah A. Yurgelun-Todd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Objective: To clarify the relationship between amygdalahippocampal volume and cognitive performance in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Background: Abnormalities of the amygdala-hippocampal complex and memory deficits have been reported in both schizophrenia and bipolar illness. Method: We examined memory performance and its relationship to the volumes of the whole brain, lateral ventricles, hippocampus, and amygdala using morphometric magnetic resonance imaging in 19 patients with schizophrenia, 11 bipolar patients, and 20 healthy controls. Results: Schizophrenia patients performed more poorly than bipolar patients and controls on indices of memory functioning, whereas patients with bipolar disorder showed milder impairments relative to controls. The schizophrenia group showed reduced total cerebral volume and enlarged ventricles relative to controls, but no group differences were found for amygdala or hippocampal volume. Left amygdala volume was predictive of memory performance in both groups, correlating positively with better immediate and delayed verbal memory for bipolar patients and negatively with immediate and delayed verbal recall for schizophrenia patients. Amygdala volume was unrelated to memory performance in healthy subjects. Conclusions: Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder both seem to be associated with anomalous and differential limbic volumefunction relationships, such that the amygdala may facilitate hippocampal-dependent memory processes in bipolar disorder but impair these same processes in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-37
Number of pages10
JournalCognitive and Behavioral Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Amygdala
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Hippocampus
  • MRI
  • Memory
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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