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Brain-imaging evidence of poor inhibition in people with bi-polar disorder

MARCH 01, 2008

Dr. Morgan Haldane, working in the Section of Neurobiology of Psychosis, at the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings, is the lead author of a paper reporting on the breakdown in the normal brain structure-function relationships associated with controlling inhibition in patients with Bipolar Disorder (BD).

Impairment in inhibitory control is a core difficulty in BD where patients have difficulties in suppressing inappropriate responses or actions, especially when they are in a manic phase.  Dr Haldane obtained structural magnetic resonance imaging brain scans from 44  patients with BD and for 44 healthy individuals matched to their bipolar counterparts by age, sex, ethnicity and other factors.

Two tasks that require participants to suppress easy and intuitive responses in favour of more complex ones were used to assess inhibitory control. In healthy participants better inhibitory control was associated with gray matter volume in prefrontal regions of the brain. The prefrontal cortex is the most anterior part of the brain and strongly implicated in higher order cognitive functions. This association between inhibitory control and prefrontal cortex was lost in BD patients suggesting that the integrity of the prefrontal cortex may be compromised in BD. These findings underscore the importance of brain structural changes in BD and their contribution to disease vulnerability and clinical symptoms.

This paper  Brain-imaging Evidence of poor inhibition in Bipolar Disorder was published on 1st March in the journal of Psychopharmcology. (J  Psychopharmacol. 2008 Mar;22(2):138-43.  The authors were Haldane M, Cunningham G, Androutsos C, Frangou S. Please refeer to the jounral  for a copy of the paper.
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