, Volume 202, Issue 1–3, pp 457–476

Lithium and cognitive enhancement: leave it or take it?

  • Eleftheria Tsaltas
  • Dimitris Kontis
  • Vasileios Boulougouris
  • George N. Papadimitriou

DOI: 10.1007/s00213-008-1311-8

Cite this article as:
Tsaltas, E., Kontis, D., Boulougouris, V. et al. Psychopharmacology (2009) 202: 457. doi:10.1007/s00213-008-1311-8



Lithium is established as an effective treatment of acute mania, bipolar and unipolar depression and as prophylaxis against bipolar disorder. Accumulating evidence is also delineating a neuroprotective and neurotrophic role for lithium. However, its primary effects on cognitive functioning remain ambiguous.


The aim of this paper is to review and combine the relevant translational studies, focusing on the putative cognitive enhancement properties of lithium, specifically on learning, memory, and attention.


These properties are also discussed in reference to research demonstrating a protective action of lithium against cognitive deficits induced by various challenges to the nervous system, such as stress, trauma, neurodegenerative disorders, and psychiatric disorders.


It is suggested on the basis of the evidence that the cognitive effects of lithium are best expressed and should, therefore, be sought under conditions of functional or biological challenge to the nervous system.


Lithium Enhancer Cognition Learning Memory Attention Neuropsychiatric disorders Cognitive enhancer 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eleftheria Tsaltas
    • 1
  • Dimitris Kontis
    • 1
    • 2
  • Vasileios Boulougouris
    • 3
  • George N. Papadimitriou
    • 4
  1. 1.Experimental Psychology Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, Eginition HospitalAthens University Medical SchoolAthensGreece
  2. 2.Psychiatric Hospital of AtticaAthensGreece
  3. 3.Department of Experimental Psychology and the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute (BCNI)University of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry, Eginition HospitalAthens University Medical SchoolAthensGreece

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