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Bipolar I disorder and major depressive disorder show similar brain activation during depression

Authors

  • Michael A Cerullo,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA
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  • James C Eliassen,

    Corresponding author
    1. Center for Imaging Research, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA
    • Corresponding author:

      James C. Eliassen, Ph.D.

      Department of Psychiatry

      Center for Imaging Research

      University of Cincinnati

      231 Albert Sabin Way, Suite E685D

      Cincinnati, OH 45267-0583

      USA

      Fax: 513-558-7164

      E-mail: eliassjc@ucmail.uc.edu

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  • Christopher T Smith,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA
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  • David E Fleck,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA
    2. Center for Imaging Research, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA
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  • Erik B Nelson,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA
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  • Jeffrey R Strawn,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA
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  • Martine Lamy,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA
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  • Melissa P DelBello,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA
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  • Caleb M Adler,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA
    2. Center for Imaging Research, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA
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  • Stephen M Strakowski

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA
    2. Center for Imaging Research, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA
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Abstract

Objectives

Despite different treatments and courses of illness, depressive symptoms appear similar in major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar I disorder (BP-I). This similarity of depressive symptoms suggests significant overlap in brain pathways underlying neurovegetative, mood, and cognitive symptoms of depression. These shared brain regions might be expected to exhibit similar activation in individuals with MDD and BP-I during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Methods

fMRI was used to compare regional brain activation in participants with BP-I (n = 25) and MDD (n = 25) during a depressive episode as well as 25 healthy comparison (HC) participants. During the scans, participants performed an attentional task that incorporated emotional pictures.

Results

During the viewing of emotional images, subjects with BP-I showed decreased activation in the middle occipital gyrus, lingual gyrus, and middle temporal gyrus compared to both subjects with MDD and HC participants. During attentional processing, participants with MDD had increased activation in the parahippocampus, parietal lobe, and postcentral gyrus. However, among these regions, only the postcentral gyrus also showed differences between MDD and HC participants.

Conclusions

No differences in cortico-limbic regions were found between participants with BP-I and MDD during depression. Instead, the major differences occurred in primary and secondary visual processing regions, with decreased activation in these regions in BP-I compared to major depression. These differences were driven by abnormal decreases in activation seen in the participants with BP-I. Posterior activation changes are a common finding in studies across mood states in participants with BP-I.

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