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June 21, 2005

MRI Shows Brain Differences

MRI's or magnetic resonance imaging now has something else that it can show us: the brain differences in those with bipolar disorder. 10 patients who had bipolar disorder and were having a manic episode were used, as well as 15 people who were healthy.

"The study participants performed a "stop-signal task," in which they were instructed to respond to projected letters depending on the letter color. The test provides a measure of impulse control, Strakowski explained in an interview with Reuters Health.

During the test, bipolar patients exhibited increased activation in a "distributed network of brain regions known to involve the control of emotion and emotional expression," Strakowski said. His group found that these mood networks are connected with the cognitive networks, "so when mood networks are overactivated they interfere with cognition," leading to reduced impulse control.

The researchers looked at areas of the posterior brain typically involved in attentional processes in healthy people. These areas become activated as attentional tasks become more difficult" (Reuters, 2005).

The results showed that those in a manic episode will often give answers (and hence, thoughts) that are quick, but less accurate. These new findings will hopefully give way to better therapeutic styles for those with bipolar disorder. Eventually this technology could also be used to target neurochemical abnormalities and therefore give medications a specific objective.

For more articles on bipolar disorder biology go to: http://tinyurl.com/b7bcb

The source of this article was Reuters Health, for the full length article go to: http://tinyurl.com/acwm8

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