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Bipolar Disord. 2004 Feb;6(1):43-52.

Magnetic resonance imaging analysis of amygdala and other subcortical brain regions in adolescents with bipolar disorder.

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  • 1Bipolar and Psychotic Disorders Research Program, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH 45267, USA.



Few studies have examined the abnormalities that underlie the neuroanatomy of bipolar disorder in youth. The aim of this study was to evaluate brain regions that are thought to modulate mood utilizing quantitative analyses of thin-slice magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of adolescents with bipolar disorder. We hypothesized that adolescents with bipolar disorder would exhibit abnormalities in brain regions that are involved in the regulation of mood including the amygdala, globus pallidus, caudate, putamen, and thalamus.


Bipolar adolescents (n = 23) and healthy subjects (n = 20) matched for age, race, sex, socioeconomic status, IQ, education and Tanner stage, were evaluated using the Washington University at St Louis Kiddie-Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (WASH-U K-SADS). Contiguous 1 mm axial T1-weighted MRI slices were obtained using a GE 1.5 T MR scanner. Regions of interest (ROI) included total cerebral volume, amygdala, globus pallidus, caudate, putamen, and thalamus.


Total cerebral volume was smaller in bipolar adolescents than in healthy adolescents. A MANCOVA revealed a significant group difference in overall ROI volumes after adjusting for total cerebral volume. Specifically, adolescents with bipolar disorder exhibited smaller amygdala and enlarged putamen compared with healthy subjects.


Our findings indicate that adolescents with bipolar disorder exhibit abnormalities in some of the brain regions that are thought to be involved in the regulation of mood. Additional structural and functional neuroimaging investigations of children, adolescents, and adults with bipolar disorder are necessary to clarify the role of these brain regions in the neurophysiology of adolescent bipolar disorder.

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