Changes in brain activation following psychotherapy for youth with mood dysregulation at familial risk for bipolar disorder

Amy S. Garrett, David J. Miklowitz, Meghan E. Howe, Manpreet K. Singh, Tenah K. Acquaye, Christopher G. Hawkey, Gary H. Glover, Allan L. Reiss, Kiki D. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Psychotherapy for youth with mood dysregulation can help stabilize mood and improve functioning, but the neural mechanisms of this improvement are not known. In this study we investigated the changes in brain activation underlying improvement in mood symptoms. Methods: Twenty-four subjects (ages 13-17) participated: 12 patients with clinically significant symptoms of depression and/or mania, and 12 healthy comparison subjects (HC) matched for age and sex. All subjects completed functional magnetic resonance imaging while viewing facial expressions. The patients then received up to 4. months of psychotherapy and were rescanned at end of treatment. Whole brain differences between patient and control groups were assessed with a voxel-wise analysis. Changes in activation from pre- to post-treatment within the patient group were tested for correlation with changes in mood symptoms. Results: At baseline the patient group had hypoactivation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and hyperactivation in the posterior cingulate cortex compared to the HC group. Between pre- and post-treatment activation increased in the DLPFC and decreased in the amygdala. Increases in DLPFC activation were significantly correlated with improvement in mania symptoms. Discussion: Enhancement of frontal executive control brain regions may underlie improvement in mood dysregulation in pediatric patients at familial risk for bipolar disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-220
Number of pages6
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
StatePublished - Jan 2 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Bipolar
  • FMRI
  • Pediatric
  • Prefrontal
  • Psychotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Biological Psychiatry


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