Background: The recent upsurge in interest about pediatric bipolar disorder (BD) has spurred the need for greater understanding of its neurobiology. Structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging studies have implicated fronto-temporal dysfunction in pediatric BD. However, recent data suggest that task-dependent neural changes account for a small fraction of the brain's energy consumption. We now report the first use of task-independent spontaneous resting state functional connectivity (RSFC) to study the neural underpinnings of pediatric BD.
Methods: We acquired task-independent RSFC blood oxygen level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging scans while participants were at rest and also a high-resolution anatomical image (both at three Tesla) in BD and control youths (n = 15 of each). We focused, on the basis of prior research, on the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), amygdala, and accumbens. Image processing and group-level analyses followed that of prior work.
Results: Our primary analysis showed that pediatric BD participants had significantly greater negative RSFC between the left DLPFC and the right superior temporal gyrus versus control subjects. Secondary analyses using partial correlation showed that BD and control youths had opposite phase relationships between spontaneous RSFC fluctuations in the left DLPFC and right superior temporal gyrus.
Conclusions: Our data indicate that pediatric BD is characterized by altered task-independent functional connectivity in a fronto-temporal circuit that is also implicated in working memory and learning. Further study is warranted to determine the effects of age, gender, development, and treatment on this circuit in pediatric BD.
Copyright © 2010 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.