Impaired sensory processing measured by functional MRI in Bipolar disorder manic and depressed mood states

Joseph J. Shaffer, Casey P. Johnson, Jess G. Fiedorowicz, Gary E. Christensen, John A. Wemmie, Vincent A. Magnotta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Bipolar disorder is characterized by recurring episodes of depression and mania. Defining differences in brain function during these states is an important goal of bipolar disorder research. However, few imaging studies have directly compared brain activity between bipolar mood states. Herein, we compare functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) responses during a flashing checkerboard stimulus between bipolar participants across mood states (euthymia, depression, and mania) in order to identify functional differences between these states. 40 participants with bipolar I disorder and 33 healthy controls underwent fMRI during the presentation of the stimulus. A total of 23 euthymic-state, 16 manic-state, 15 depressed-state, and 32 healthy control imaging sessions were analyzed in order to compare functional activation during the stimulus between mood states and with healthy controls. A reduced response was identified in the visual cortex in both the depressed and manic groups compared to euthymic and healthy participants. Functional differences between bipolar mood states were also observed in the cerebellum, thalamus, striatum, and hippocampus. Functional differences between mood states occurred in several brain regions involved in visual and other sensory processing. These differences suggest that altered visual processing may be a feature of mood states in bipolar disorder. The key limitations of this study are modest mood-state group size and the limited temporal resolution of fMRI which prevents the segregation of primary visual activity from regulatory feedback mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)837-847
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Mania
  • Mood state
  • Visual cortex
  • fMRI


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