BACKGROUND: Previous work from our group demonstrated improved memory function in bariatric surgery patients at 12 weeks postoperatively relative to controls. However, no study has examined longer-term changes in cognitive functioning following bariatric surgery.METHODS: A total of 137 individuals (95 bariatric surgery patients and 42 obese controls) were followed prospectively to determine whether postsurgery cognitive improvements persist. Potential mechanisms of change were also examined. Bariatric surgery participants completed self-report measurements and a computerized cognitive test battery prior to surgery and at 12-week and 12-month follow-up; obese controls completed measures at equivalent time points.RESULTS: Bariatric surgery patients exhibited cognitive deficits relative to well-established standardized normative data prior to surgery, and obese controls demonstrated similar deficits. Analyses of longitudinal change indicated an interactive effect on memory indices, with bariatric surgery patients demonstrating better performance postoperatively than obese controls.CONCLUSIONS: While memory performance was improved 12 months postbariatric surgery, the mechanisms underlying these improvements were unclear and did not appear attributable to obvious postsurgical changes, such as reductions in body mass index or comorbid medical conditions. Future studies employing neuroimaging, metabolic biomarkers, and more precise physiological measurements are needed to determine the mechanisms underlying memory improvements following bariatric surgery.