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Relatively few studies have investigated whether relatives of patients with bipolar disorder show brain functional changes, and these have focused on activation changes. Failure of de-activation during cognitive task performance is also seen in the disorder and may have trait-like characteristics since it has been found in euthymia.
A total of 20 euthymic patients with bipolar disorder, 20 of their unaffected siblings and 40 healthy controls underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging during performance of the n-back working memory task. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) was fitted to individual whole-brain maps from each set of patient–relative–matched pair of controls. Clusters of significant difference among the groups were used as regions of interest to compare mean activations/de-activations between them.
A single cluster of significant difference among the three groups was found in the whole-brain ANOVA. This was located in the medial prefrontal cortex, a region of task-related de-activation in the healthy controls. Both the patients and their siblings showed significantly reduced de-activation compared with the healthy controls in this region, but the failure was less marked in the relatives.
Failure to de-activate the medial prefrontal cortex in both euthymic bipolar patients and their unaffected siblings adds to evidence for default mode network dysfunction in the disorder, and suggests that it may act as a trait marker.
Few randomised clinical trials have examined the efficacy of an
intervention aimed at improving psychosocial functioning in bipolar
To examine changes in psychosocial functioning in a group that has been
enrolled in a functional remediation programme 1 year after baseline.
This was a multicentre, randomised, rater-masked clinical trial comparing
three patient groups: functional remediation, psychoeducation and
treatment as usual over 1-year follow-up. The primary outcome was change
in psychosocial functioning measured by means of the Functioning
Assessment Short Test (FAST). Group×time effects for overall psychosocial
functioning were examined using repeated-measures ANOVA (trial
There was a significant group×time interaction for overall psychosocial
functioning, favouring patients in the functional remediation group
(F = 3.071, d.f. = 2, P =
Improvement in psychosocial functioning is maintained after 1-year
follow-up in patients with bipolar disorder receiving functional
Functional remediation is a novel intervention with demonstrated efficacy at improving functional outcome in euthymic bipolar patients. However, in a previous trial no significant changes in neurocognitive measures were detected. The objective of the present analysis was to test the efficacy of this therapy in the enhancement of neuropsychological functions in a subgroup of neurocognitively impaired bipolar patients.
A total of 188 out of 239 DSM-IV euthymic bipolar patients performing below two standard deviations from the mean of normative data in any neurocognitive test were included in this subanalysis. Repeated-measures analyses of variance were conducted to assess the impact of the treatment arms [functional remediation, psychoeducation, or treatment as usual (TAU)] on participants’ neurocognitive and functional outcomes in the subgroup of neurocognitively impaired patients.
Patients receiving functional remediation (n = 56) showed an improvement on delayed free recall when compared with the TAU (n = 63) and psychoeducation (n = 69) groups as shown by the group × time interaction at 6-month follow-up [F2,158 = 3.37, degrees of freedom (df) = 2, p = 0.037]. However, Tukey post-hoc analyses revealed that functional remediation was only superior when compared with TAU (p = 0.04), but not with psychoeducation (p = 0.10). Finally, the patients in the functional remediation group also benefited from the treatment in terms of functional outcome (F2,158 = 4.26, df = 2, p = 0.016).
Functional remediation is effective at improving verbal memory and psychosocial functioning in a sample of neurocognitively impaired bipolar patients at 6-month follow-up. Neurocognitive enhancement may be one of the active ingredients of this novel intervention, and, specifically, verbal memory appears to be the most sensitive function that improves with functional remediation.
Schizo-affective disorder has not been studied to any significant extent using functional imaging. The aim of this study was to examine patterns of brain activation and deactivation in patients meeting strict diagnostic criteria for the disorder.
Thirty-two patients meeting Research Diagnostic Criteria (RDC) for schizo-affective disorder (16 schizomanic and 16 schizodepressive) and 32 matched healthy controls underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during performance of the n-back task. Linear models were used to obtain maps of activations and deactivations in the groups.
Controls showed activation in a network of frontal and other areas and also deactivation in the medial frontal cortex, the precuneus and the parietal cortex. Schizo-affective patients activated significantly less in prefrontal, parietal and temporal regions than the controls, and also showed failure of deactivation in the medial frontal cortex. When task performance was controlled for, the reduced activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and the failure of deactivation of the medial frontal cortex remained significant.
Schizo-affective disorder shows a similar pattern of reduced frontal activation to schizophrenia. The disorder is also characterized by failure of deactivation suggestive of default mode network dysfunction.
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