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Keywords:

  • bipolar disorder;
  • DTI;
  • fMRI ;
  • non-verbal episodic memory;
  • VBM

Objectives

We combined multimodal functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and structural magnetic resonance imaging to probe abnormalities in brain circuits underpinning episodic memory performance deficits in patients with bipolar disorder (BD).

Methods

We acquired whole-brain fMRI data in 21 patients with BD and a matched group of 20 healthy controls during a non-verbal episodic memory task, using abstract shapes. We also examined density of gray matter, using voxel-based morphometry (VBM), and integrity of connecting fiber tracts, using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and tract-based spatial statistics, for areas with significant activation differences.

Results

Patients with BD remembered less well than controls which shapes they had seen and had lower activation levels during the encoding stage of the task in the anterior cingulate gyrus, the precuneus/cuneus bilaterally, and the left lingual gyrus, and higher activation levels during the retrieval stage in the left temporo-parietal junction. Patients with BD showed reduced gray matter volumes in the left anterior cingulate, the precuneus/cuneus bilaterally, and the left temporo-parietal region in comparison with controls. DTI revealed increased radial, axial, and mean diffusivity in the left superior longitudinal fascicle in patients with BD compared with controls.

Conclusions

Changes in task-related activation in frontal and parietal areas were associated with poorer episodic memory in patients with BD. Compared with data from single imaging modalities, integration of multimodal neuroimaging data enables the building of more complete neuropsychological models of mental disorders.