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Neuroimage. 2014 Jan 15;85 Pt 1:489-97. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.04.098. Epub 2013 May 3.

Prefrontal activation in response to emotional words in patients with bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder.

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Division of Neuropsychiatry, Department of Neuroscience, Yamaguchi University Graduate School of Medicine, 1-1-1 Minamikogushi, Ube, Yamaguchi 755-8505, Japan.


Abnormal emotional processing is involved in the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder (BD) and major depressive disorder (MDD). However, whether the neural mechanism underlying this deficit is a trait characteristic of BD and MDD is unclear. The aim of this study was to elucidate the similarities and differences in processing of emotional stimuli between patients with BD and MDD in remission, using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). Thirty-two patients (16 with BD and 16 with MDD) and 20 healthy control subjects matched for age, sex, handedness, and years of education were included. An emotional Stroop task, including happy, sad, and threat words, was used. The relative oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin concentration ([oxy-Hb] and [deoxy-Hb]) changes in the frontal region were measured using 52-channels of NIRS. During the threat task, compared to healthy control subjects, patients with BD showed significantly increased [oxy-Hb] in the left inferior frontal region whereas patients with MDD showed significantly increased [oxy-Hb] in the left middle frontal region. During the happy task, compared to healthy control subjects, patients with BD showed significantly decreased [oxy-Hb] in the middle frontal region in both hemispheres. Moreover, patients with BD exhibited decreased [oxy-Hb] and increased [deoxy-Hb] in the superior frontal and middle frontal regions compared to MDD in response to the happy stimulus. No significant differences in [oxy-Hb] or [deoxy-Hb] were seen between the groups during the sad task. These results suggest that abnormal neural responses to emotional stimuli in patients with mood disorders in remission may be a trait characteristic, that negative emotional stimuli are associated with similar prefrontal responses, and that positive emotional stimuli are associated with different prefrontal responses in patients with BD and MDD. These findings indicate that different neural circuits play a role in emotional processing in BD and MDD; this may aid the elucidation of the pathophysiology of these two disorders.


Emotion; Mood disorders; Near-infrared spectroscopy; Prefrontal; Stroop

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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