Neural correlates of hallucinations in bipolar disorder
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OBJECTIVE: Approximately one-half of all patients affected by bipolar disorder present with psychotic features on at least one occasion. Several studies have found that alterations in the activity of mesolimbic and prefrontal regions are related to aberrant salience in psychotic patients. The aim of the present study was to investigate the structural correlates of a history of hallucinations in a sample of euthymic patients with bipolar I disorder (BD-I). METHODS: The sample consisted of 21 euthymic patients with BD-I and no comorbid axis I DSM-IV-TR disorders. Voxel based morphometry (VBM) was used to compare patients with and without a lifetime history of hallucinations. Preprocessing was performed using the Diffeomorphic Anatomical Registration through Exponentiated Lie Algebra (DARTEL) algorithm for VBM in SPM8. Images were processed using optimized VBM. RESULTS: The main finding of the present study was a reduction in gray matter volume in the right posterior insular cortex of patients with BD-I and a lifetime history of hallucinations, as compared to subjects with the same diagnosis but no history of hallucinations. CONCLUSIONS: This finding supports the presence of abnormalities in the salience network in BD patients with a lifetime history of hallucinations. These alterations may be associated with an aberrant assignment of salience to the elements of one's own experience, which could result in psychotic symptoms.
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