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Study finds difference in way bipolar disorder affects brains of children versus adults
Date:6/18/2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. A new study from Bradley Hospital has found that bipolar children have greater activation in the right amygdala a brain region very important for emotional reaction than bipolar adults when viewing emotional faces. The study, now published online in JAMA Psychiatry, suggests that bipolar children might benefit from treatments that target emotional face identification, such as computer based "brain games" or group and individual therapy.

This study is the first ever meta-analysis to directly compare brain changes in bipolar children to bipolar adults, using data from 100 functional MRI (fMRI) brain imaging studies with a pool of thousands of participants. Ezra Wegbreit, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow at Bradley Hospital, led the study along with senior author Daniel Dickstein, M.D., director of the PediMIND Program at Bradley Hospital.

"Bipolar disorder is among the most debilitating psychiatric illnesses affecting adults worldwide, with an estimated prevalence of one to four percent of the adult population, but more than 40 percent of adults report their bipolar disorder started in childhood rather than adulthood," said Wegbreit. "Despite this, very few studies have examined whether brain or behavioral changes exist that are specific to children with bipolar disorder versus adults with bipolar disorder."

While fMRI studies have begun to investigate the neural mechanisms underlying bipolar disorder, few have directly compared differences in youths with bipolar disorder and bipolar adults. To address this gap, the research team conducted the large scale meta-analyses, directly comparing fMRI findings in bipolar youths versus bipolar adults, both relative to non-bipolar participants.

Analysis of emotional face recognition fMRI studies showed significantly greater amygdala activity among bipolar youths than bipolar adults. The team also analyzed studies using emotional stimuli, which again sh
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Contact: Jill Reuter
jreuter@lifespan.org
401-444-6863
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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