Neurophysiological correlates of cognitive control and approach motivation abnormalities in adolescent bipolar disorders

Erin L. Maresh, Joshua J. Stim, Abraham C. Van Voorhis, Seung Suk Kang, Monica Luciana, Scott R. Sponheim, Snežana Urošević

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Hypersensitivity to reward-relevant stimuli is theorized to be a core etiological factor in bipolar disorders (BDs). However, little is known about the role of cognitive control dysregulation within reward contexts in BDs, particularly during adolescence. Using electroencephalography (EEG), we explored alterations in cognitive control processes and approach motivation in 99 adolescents with (n=53) and without (n=46) BD during reward striving (target anticipation) and reward attainment (feedback) phases of a monetary incentive delay (MID) task. Time-frequency analysis yielded frontal theta and frontal alpha asymmetry as indices of cognitive control and approach motivation, respectively. Multilevel mixed models examined group differences, as well as age, sex, and other effects, on frontal theta and frontal alpha asymmetry during both phases of the task and on performance accuracy and reaction times. Healthy adolescent girls exhibited lower frontal theta than both adolescent girls with BD and adolescent boys with and without BD during reward anticipation and feedback. Across groups, adolescent boys displayed greater relative left frontal alpha activity than adolescent girls during reward anticipation and feedback. Behaviorally, adolescents with BD exhibited faster responses on both positively and negatively motivated trials versus neutral trials, whereas healthy adolescents had faster responses only on positively motivated trials; adolescents with BD were less accurate in responding to neutral trials compared to healthy controls. These findings shed light on normative and BD-specific involvement of approach motivation and cognitive control during different stages of reward processing in adolescence and, further, provide evidence of adolescent sex differences in these processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)677-691
Number of pages15
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 15 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This research was supported by NIMH Grant K01 MH093621 to Snežana Urošević, PhD and the University of Minnesota's Center for Neurobehavioral Development. Drs. Urošević’s and Sponheim’s efforts were also partially supported by the Minneapolis VA Health Care System. The contents do not represent the views of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Government. The authors declare no conflicts of interest with respect to their authorship or the publication of this article. Finally, the authors would like to thank all the research staff that contributed to data collection and especially the research participants and their families for their participation in this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, This is a U.S. government work and its text is not subject to copyright protection in the United States; however, its text may be subject to foreign copyright protection.


  • Adolescence
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Cognitive control
  • EEG
  • Reward


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