Limbic changes identified by imaging in bipolar patients

Paolo Brambilla, John P. Hatch, Jair C. Soares

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The hippocampus and amygdala are key limbic regions for memory formation and emotion modulation that are potentially involved in the cognitive and affective symptoms of bipolar disorder. Here we discuss the most consistent MRI literature in bipolar disorder, focusing on the role of the hippocampus and amygdala. In child and adolescent patients, a unique pattern of abnormalities has begun to emerge, with volume deficits in the hippocampus and amygdala already detectable early in the illness course. In adults, it is unclear whether hippocampal volumes are abnormal, whereas the amygdala is reported to be larger and hyperactive to external emotional stimuli. However, available findings are often conflicting, and most studies suffer from limitations. Future longitudinal magnetic resonance studies should focus on juvenile patients; first-episode, drug-free patients; and unaffected family members. Jointly with genetic, postmortem, and neuropsychological studies, these studies will be extremely valuable in separating state from trait brain abnormalities and further characterizing the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-509
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent psychiatry reports
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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