Structural and functional changes in the somatosensory cortex in euthymic females with bipolar disorder
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OBJECTIVE: Current evidence from neuroimaging data suggests possible dysfunction of the fronto-striatal-limbic circuits in individuals with bipolar disorder. Somatosensory cortical function has been implicated in emotional recognition, risk-taking and affective responses through sensory modalities. This study investigates anatomy and function of the somatosensory cortex in euthymic bipolar women. METHODS: In total, 68 right-handed euthymic women (bipolar disorder = 32 and healthy controls = 36) between 16 and 45 years of age underwent high-resolution anatomical and functional magnetic resonance imaging during the mid-follicular menstrual phase. The somatosensory cortex was used as a seed region for resting-state functional connectivity analysis. Voxel-based morphometry was used to evaluate somatosensory cortical gray matter volume between groups. RESULTS: We found increased resting-state functional connectivity between the somatosensory cortex and insular cortex, inferior prefrontal gyrus and frontal orbital cortex in euthymic bipolar disorder subjects compared to healthy controls. Voxel-based morphometry analysis showed decreased gray matter in the left somatosensory cortex in the bipolar disorder group. Whole-brain voxel-based morphometry analysis controlled by age did not reveal any additional significant difference between groups. CONCLUSION: This study is the first to date to evaluate anatomy and function of the somatosensory cortex in a well-characterized sample of euthymic bipolar disorder females. Anatomical and functional changes in the somatosensory cortex in this population might contribute to the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder.
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