(HealthDay News) – Youth at increased genetic risk for bipolar disorder exhibit reduced brain signal from the inferior frontal gyrus when inhibiting responses to fearful face stimuli, according to a study published online Dec. 14 in Biological Psychiatry.
Using a facial-emotion go/no-go task, Gloria Roberts, PhD, from the University of New South Wales in Randwick, Australia, and colleagues analyzed functional brain activity (via functional magnetic resonance imaging) during inhibition of emotional material in 47 young people at increased genetic risk for bipolar disorder (aged 18–30 years) and 49 controls.
The researchers found a highly specific and significant lack of recruitment of the inferior frontal gyrus when inhibiting responses to fearful faces in the high-risk participants, compared with controls. Dysregulated frontolimbic brain networks were implicated as a potential neurocognitive endophenotype for bipolar disorder, providing evidence for pre-existing functional disturbances in those at high genetic risk for bipolar disorder.
“Impaired inhibitory function of the inferior frontal cortex may represent a trait marker of vulnerability to bipolar disorder,” the authors write.