Epidemiological and clinical aspects will guide the neuroimaging research in bipolar disorder

J. Houenou, C. Perlini, P. Brambilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although neurobiological mechanisms of bipolar disorder (BD) are still unclear, neural models of the disease have recently been conceptualised thanks to neuroimaging. Indeed, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies investigating structural and functional connectivity between different areas of the brain suggest an altered prefrontal-limbic coupling leading to disrupted emotional processing in BD, including uncinate fasciculus, amygdala, parahippocampal cortex, cingulate cortex as well corpus callosum. Specifically, these models assume an altered prefrontal control over a hyperactivity of the subcortical limbic structures implicated in automatic emotional processing. This impaired mechanism may finally trigger emotional hyper-reactivity and mood episodes. In this review, we first summarised some key neuroimaging studies on BD. In the second part of the work, we focused on the heterogeneity of the available studies. This variability is partly due to methodological factors (i.e., small sample size) and differences among studies (i.e., MRI acquisition and post-processing analyses) and partly to the clinical heterogeneity of BD. We finally outlined how epidemiological studies should indicate which risk factors and clinical dimensions of BD are relevant to be studied with neuroimaging in order to reduce heterogeneity and go beyond diagnostic categories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-120
Number of pages4
JournalEpidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 15 2015


  • Biological markers
  • bipolar disorder
  • brain imaging techniques
  • epidemiology
  • neuroanatomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Epidemiology


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