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Interpreting Magnetic Resonance Imaging Findings in Bipolar Disorder

Lookup NU author(s): Dr David Cousins, Professor Heinz Grunze


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The episodic nature of bipolar disorder together with the ostensibly polar extremes of mania and depression have favored the acceptance of a functional model postulating regionally disturbed brain activity returning to normal with time or treatment. Seemingly contrary to that view, anatomical imaging studies have demonstrated abnormalities in brain structure which could reflect neurodegeneration or represent disturbed neuronal development. Resolution may come from an appreciation of adult neurogenesis, especially given the neuroprotective properties of drugs, such as lithium and their effects on brain volume. The brain regions vulnerable to structural changes also show evidence of dysfunction, giving rise to corticolimbic dysregulation interpretations of bipolar disorder. This article reviews the structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging data in bipolar disorder. Its focus is on the interpretation of findings in light of recent developments in the fields of neurobiology and image analysis, with particular attention paid to both the confounding effects of medication and the baseline energy state of the brain.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Cousins DA, Grunze H

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics

Year: 2012

Volume: 18

Issue: 3

Pages: 201-207

Print publication date: 11/03/2012

ISSN (print): 1755-5930

ISSN (electronic): 1755-5949



DOI: 10.1111/j.1755-5949.2011.00280.x