Brain imaging identifies bipolar disorder risk in adolescents

Discussion in 'Parenting News' started by runawaybunny, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. runawaybunny

    runawaybunny Guest

    Young people at risk show reduced reaction to facial emotions

    Researchers from the University of New South Wales and Black Dog Institute in Sydney, Australia have used brain imaging technology to show that young people with a known risk of bipolar (but as yet have no signs of the condition) have clear and quantifiable differences in brain activity when compared to controls.

    "We found that the young people who had a parent or sibling with bipolar disorder had reduced brain responses to emotive faces, particularly a fearful face. This is an extremely promising breakthrough," says study leader UNSW Professor Philip Mitchell.

    "We know that bipolar is primarily a biological illness with a strong genetic influence but triggers are yet to be understood. Being able to identify young people at risk will enable implementation of early intervention programs, giving them the best chance for a long and happy life," says Professor Mitchell.

    Affecting around 1 in 75 Australians, bipolar disorder involves extreme and often unpredictable fluctuations in mood. The mood swings and associated behaviours such as disinhibited behaviour, aggression and severe depression, have a significant impact on day-to-day life, careers and relationships. Bipolar has the highest suicide rate of all psychiatric disorders.

    Researchers used functional MRI to visualise brain activity when participants were shown pictures of happy, fearful or calm (neutral) human faces. Results showed that those with a genetic risk of bipolar displayed significantly reduced brain activity in a specific part of the brain known to regulate emotional responses.

    "Our results show that bipolar disorder may be linked to a dysfunction in emotional regulation and this is something we will continue to explore," Professor Mitchell said.

    "And we now have an extremely promising method of identifying children and young people at risk of bipolar disorder."

    "We expect that early identification will significantly improve outcomes for people that go on to develop bipolar disorder, and possibly even prevent onset in some people."


    Story Source:
    The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of New South Wales

    Results are published in Biological Psychiatry and come from the NHMRC-funded 'Kids and Sibs study', the biggest research study in the world focusing on genetic and environmental aspects of bipolar disorder. Based at the Black Dog Institute.

    This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ConductDisorders or its staff
  2. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I've been watching the tv reports all day today and am very interested in the discussions that have been going on regarding this. I think it's time we discussed these issues if we are to find ways to help our kids and stop these tragedies. Year ago when my difficult child was about eight years old I posted on this board asking if anyone heard of brain scans being used to identify areas of the brain that were over or underactive because it was suggested to me that I have this done for my difficult child to try to determine why she was throwing tantrums that would last for hours. At the time no one had any experience with it and many were skeptical because it was so new. I always wished I had had the finances to have those tests done because I truly feel we would have some answers today.

    I hope that this tragedy causes the scientists and researchers to step up their efforts to find out what causes some people to act out in violent ways. When our family was going through it not one doctor or pyschiatrist or therapist had any idea how to help us, they all dismissed it because she did not have seizures or any other obvious reason for her tantrums and just told us to do sticker charts. We knew at that time we were in over out heads but no one would listen.