Bipolar disorder linked to specific brain regions; certain drugs alter brain metabolism

PITTSBURGH, June 17 Late-breaking research, including a study that identifies the specific regions of the brain that may be responsible for manic behaviors, will be presented in a special session at the Sixth International Conference on Bipolar Disorder, held June 16 to 18 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

The special session includes 12 presentations that specifically focus on the most recent and promising research developments that are of interest to the more than 1,000 participants attending the only scientific meeting devoted exclusively to bipolar disorder research.

Highlights of the these "rapid communications" presentations include the following:


Bipolar disorder is widely associated with behaviors including elation, hyperactivity and impulsive, often reckless behaviors during patients' manic phases. But the specifics about what in the brain actually causes these behaviors are still unclear. Researcher Stephen Strakowski, M.D., of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine examined brain activity in response to an impulse control task that showed manic bipolar patients may have difficulties modulating the brain regions that monitor task performance, namely, those regions that detect error and promote accurate responses.

Dr. Strakowski noticed such difficulties in studies that used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which is useful in mapping changes in the brain that correspond to mental operations. Both manic bipolar patients and healthy subjects were fitted with special goggles through which they viewed random blue letters and occasional targets, indicated by a blue letter X. Subjects were instructed to respond to the blue letter X targets by pressing a button. However, when the letter X turned from blue to red, they were asked to refrain from pressing the button.



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