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J Affect Disord. 2010 Jan;120(1-3):200-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2009.04.018.

The quantitative assessment of motor activity in mania and schizophrenia.

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University of California, Department of Psychiatry, San Diego, CA, USA.



Increased motor activity is a cardinal feature of the mania of Bipolar Disorder (BD), and is thought to reflect dopaminergic dysregulation. Motor activity in BD has been studied almost exclusively with self-report and observer-rated scales, limiting the ability to objectively quantify this behavior. We used an ambulatory monitoring device to quantify motor activity in BD and schizophrenia (SCZ) patients in a novel exploratory paradigm, the human Behavioral Pattern Monitor (BPM).


28 patients in the manic phase of BD, 17 SCZ patients, and 21 nonpatient (NC) subjects were tested in the BPM, an unfamiliar room containing novel objects. Motor activity was measured with a wearable ambulatory monitoring device (LifeShirt).


Manic BD patients exhibited higher levels of motor activity when exploring the novel environment than SCZ and NC groups. Motor activity showed some modest relationships with symptom ratings of mania and psychosis and was not related to smoking or body mass index.


Although motor activity did not appear to be impacted significantly by antipsychotic or mood-stabilizing medications, this was a naturalistic study and medications were not controlled, thus limiting conclusions about potential medication effects on motor activity.


Manic BD patients exhibit a unique signature of motoric overactivity in a novel exploratory environment. The use of an objective method to quantify exploration and motor activity may help characterize the unique aspects of BD and, because it is amenable to translational research, may further the study of the biological and genetic bases of the disease.

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