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Brain scans highlight effectiveness of one bi polar medication during depressive phase

MARCH 11, 2008

Lamotrigine, a medication used in the treatment of Bipolar Disorder (otherwise known as manic depression), is particularly useful in controlling and preventing the depressive phase of the illness.

Thanks to a study conducted in the section of Neurobiology of Psychosis at the Institute of Psychiatry, there is first evidence that Lamotrigine may “normalise” the function of emotion-processing regions in the brain. The study design compared functional magnetic resonance imaging brain scan results from bipolar disorder patients before and after they had been treated with Lamotrigine for 12 weeks. Before treatment, while viewing pictures of faces with sad expressions, patients had increased activity in those brain regions that generate and less in those that control negative emotions.

Treatment with Lamotrigine appeared to reduce this imbalance. Dr. S Frangou, lead investigator explains: "These are preliminary data but they pinpoint functional differences in brain engagement following Lamotrigine treatment which suggest that this medication may act by helping individuals with BD control their response to negative emotional context. Such initial insights can help provide a biological foundation for how medications work."  

The paper entitled Scans Revealed Action of Lamotrigine in Brain was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry (2008 Mar;192:197-201). For full details of the Pilot investigation of the changes in cortical activation during facial affect recognition with lamotrigine monotherapy in bipolar disorder. please refer to the journal. The authors were: Jogia J, Haldane M, Cobb A, Kumari V, Frangou S.
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