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April 12, 2007

Lithium Helps Bipolar Brain Grow Gray Matter

UCLA professors Carrie Bearden and Paul Thompson have demonstrated that lithium increases the amount of gray matter in the brains of patients suffering from bipolar disorder.

When the UCLA neuroimaging researchers compared the brains of bipolar patients on lithium with those of people without the disorder and those of bipolar patients not on lithium, they discovered that the volume of gray matter in the brains of those patients who were taking lithium was as much as 15 percent greater in areas that are critical for attention and controlling emotions. This discovery may explain why lithium is of value to people who suffer from bipolar disorder.

The research is published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

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