fMRI of Bipolar Disorder

The Theodore & Vada Stanley Foundation has granted a research award to Center for Bipolar and Psychotic Disorders at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine (UCMC) and the IRC at Children's Hospital Medical Center (CHMC) to study abnormalities in brain circuitry found in patients with Bipolar Disorder. This psychiatric illness is the most widespread psychotic disorder and affects millions of Americans, most often beginning during adolescence. Current hypotheses promote the idea that a defect exists in the inhibitory mechanisms of the anterior limbic system in the cerebrum. Functional magnetic resonance imaging is being used in bipolar patients to pinpoint regions in the limbic system circuitry which behave differently than in normal control subjects. Tests of attention, working memory and emotion recognition are used in conjunction with fMRI exams in order to identify suspect regions of the limbic system in bipolar disorder and help develop targeted therapies.

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Two ongoing studies of adults with Bipolar Disorder involve tests of working memory and attention using fMRI. Differences in the anterior limbic circuitry supporting these functions between patients with bipolar disorder and normal controls are visualized in fMRI activation maps.