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Neuropsychopharmacology. 1999 Jul;21(1):63-8.

MRI analysis of the cerebellum in bipolar disorder: a pilot study.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, OH 45267-0559, USA.


Since qualitative CT studies have suggested decreased cerebellar size in patients with bipolar disorder, we performed a quantitative analysis of the cerebellum in patients with bipolar disorder to determine whether high-resolution, thin slice magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) morphometry would reveal similar results. Bipolar patients hospitalized for a first manic episode (n = 16), bipolar patients with prior manic episodes hospitalized for a manic episode (n = 14), and normal volunteers (n = 15) matched for age, sex, race, and education were recruited and anatomic brain scans were acquired using a Picker 1.5 Tesla MRI scanner. Right and left cerebellar hemisphere volumes and vermal areas V1 (lobules I-V), V2 (lobules VI-VII), and V3 (lobules VIII-X) were measured. ANCOVA comparing each ROI, adjusting for race, sex, age, total cerebral volume, and substance abuse duration, revealed a significant group effect for vermal V3 area. Specifically, V3 area was significantly smaller in multiple-episode patients than in first-episode patients or healthy volunteers. Number of previous episodes of depression may contribute to this finding. These results suggest that cerebellar vermal atrophy may be a later neurodegenerative event in patients with bipolar disorder who have had multiple affective episodes. The confounding effects of medications are considered.

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