NARSAD Grantees Make New Discoveries About the Brain Circuitry of Bipolar Disorder

NARSAD Grantees Make New Discoveries About the Brain Circuitry of Bipolar Disorder

Posted: January 17, 2013

Story highlights


NARSAD Grantees Amit Anand, M.D. and Leslie A. Hulverhshorn, M.D., M.Sc., with Indiana University colleagues, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify which areas of the brain showed abnormal activity in different mood phases of bipolar disorder.

Reported in the Jan. 15, 2013 issue of Biological Psychiatry, the team analyzed brain activation patterns based on patient mood (manic, depressed, or euthymic) and stimuli type (emotion versus no emotion and happy versus sad). Bipolar depressed patients showed abnormally activated brain areas when they had to withhold responses to sad faces. Manic patients, on the other hand, had abnormal activation regardless of whether they were trying to withhold response to sad faces, happy faces or non-emotional material. Even the bipolar patients experiencing a “normal” (euthymic) mood showed abnormal activation of cortical areas of the brain while withholding responses to emotional faces.

“This study provides important information regarding brain areas that may be important in controlling response to emotional material and the functional abnormalities in these areas in mood disorders,” says senior author of the study, Dr. Amit Anand, Professor of Psychiatry and Radiology, Center for Neuroimaging, Indiana University School of Medicine.

Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Scientific Council Member, Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry commented, “It is interesting that subtly different circuits distinguish symptomatic and non-symptomatic patients with bipolar disorder when they are suppressing their happy and sad reactions. These findings may have implications for the refinement of circuit-based treatments for bipolar disorder including neurostimulation and psychotherapy.”

Read more about this bipolar disorder research

Dr. Hulvershorn has provided some answers in our "Ask an Expert" section related to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Visit: