Using a different type of MRI imaging, researchers have discovered previously unrecognized differences in the brains of patients with bipolar disorder. In particular, the study revealed differences in the white matter of patients’ brains and in the cerebellum, an area of the brain not previously linked with the disorder.
“This imaging technique appears to be sensitive to things that just have not been imaged effectively before. So it’s really providing a new picture and new insight into the composition and function of the brain [in bipolar disease],” says John Wemmie, MD, PhD, UI professor of psychiatry and senior study author.
Bipolar disorder affects about 1 percent of the population. Despite being relatively common, scientists do not have a good understanding of what causes this psychiatric condition, which is characterized by sudden mood shifts from normal to depressed or to an abnormally elevated or “manic” mood state.
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