Fronto-limbic function in unaffected offspring at familial risk for bipolar disorder during an emotional working memory paradigm

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Abstract

Evidence from neuroimaging studies indicate that individuals with bipolar disorder (BD) exhibit altered functioning of fronto-limbic systems implicated in voluntary emotion regulation. Few studies, however, have examined the extent to which unaffected youth at familial risk for BD exhibit such alterations. Using an fMRI emotional working memory paradigm, we investigated the functioning of fronto-limbic systems in fifteen healthy bipolar offspring (8-17 years old) with at least one parent diagnosed with BD (HBO), and 16 age-matched healthy control (HC) participants. Neural activity and functional connectivity analyses focused on a priori neural regions supporting emotion processing (amygdala and ventral striatum) and voluntary emotion regulation (ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC), dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC)). Relative to HC, HBO exhibited greater right VLPFC (BA47) activation in response to positive emotional distracters and reduced VLPFC modulation of the amygdala to both the positive and negative emotional distracters; there were no group differences in connectivity for the neutral distracters. These findings suggest that alterations in the functioning of fronto-limbic systems implicated in voluntary emotion regulation are present in unaffected bipolar offspring. Future longitudinal studies are needed to determine the extent to which such alterations represent neurodevelopmental markers of risk for future onset of BD. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Ladouceur, C. D., Diwadkar, V. A., White, R., Bass, J., Birmaher, B., Axelson, D. A., & Phillips, M. L. (2013). Fronto-limbic function in unaffected offspring at familial risk for bipolar disorder during an emotional working memory paradigm. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 5, 185–196. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2013.03.004

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