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Bipolar disorder (BD) is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Patients are further disadvantaged by delays in accurate diagnosis ranging between 5 and 10 years. We applied Gaussian process classifiers (GPCs) to structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI) data to evaluate the feasibility of using pattern recognition techniques for the diagnostic classification of patients with BD.
GPCs were applied to gray (GM) and white matter (WM) sMRI data derived from two independent samples of patients with BD (cohort 1: n = 26; cohort 2: n = 14). Within each cohort patients were matched on age, sex and IQ to an equal number of healthy controls.
The diagnostic accuracy of the GPC for GM was 73% in cohort 1 and 72% in cohort 2; the sensitivity and specificity of the GM classification were respectively 69% and 77% in cohort 1 and 64% and 99% in cohort 2. The diagnostic accuracy of the GPC for WM was 69% in cohort 1 and 78% in cohort 2; the sensitivity and specificity of the WM classification were both 69% in cohort 1 and 71% and 86% respectively in cohort 2. In both samples, GM and WM clusters discriminating between patients and controls were localized within cortical and subcortical structures implicated in BD.
Our results demonstrate the predictive value of neuroanatomical data in discriminating patients with BD from healthy individuals. The overlap between discriminative networks and regions implicated in the pathophysiology of BD supports the biological plausibility of the classifiers.
Abnormalities in incentive decision making, typically assessed using the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), have been reported in both schizophrenia (SZ) and bipolar disorder (BD). We applied the Expectancy–Valence (E–V) model to determine whether motivational, cognitive and response selection component processes of IGT performance are differentially affected in SZ and BD.
Performance on the IGT was assessed in 280 individuals comprising 70 remitted patients with SZ, 70 remitted patients with BD and 140 age-, sex- and IQ-matched healthy individuals. Based on the E–V model, we extracted three parameters, ‘attention to gains or loses’, ‘expectancy learning’ and ‘response consistency’, that respectively reflect motivational, cognitive and response selection influences on IGT performance.
Both patient groups underperformed in the IGT compared to healthy individuals. However, the source of these deficits was diagnosis specific. Associative learning underlying the representation of expectancies was disrupted in SZ whereas BD was associated with increased incentive salience of gains. These findings were not attributable to non-specific effects of sex, IQ, psychopathology or medication.
Our results point to dissociable processes underlying abnormal incentive decision making in BD and SZ that could potentially be mapped to different neural circuits.
The Met allele of the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) valine-to-methionine (Val158Met) polymorphism is known to affect dopamine-dependent affective regulation within amygdala–prefrontal cortical (PFC) networks. It is also thought to increase the risk of a number of disorders characterized by affective morbidity including bipolar disorder (BD), major depressive disorder (MDD) and anxiety disorders. The disease risk conferred is small, suggesting that this polymorphism represents a modifier locus. Therefore our aim was to investigate how the COMT Val158Met may contribute to phenotypic variation in clinical diagnosis using sad facial affect processing as a probe for its neural action.
We employed functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure activation in the amygdala, ventromedial PFC (vmPFC) and ventrolateral PFC (vlPFC) during sad facial affect processing in family members with BD (n=40), MDD and anxiety disorders (n=22) or no psychiatric diagnosis (n=25) and 50 healthy controls.
Irrespective of clinical phenotype, the Val158 allele was associated with greater amygdala activation and the Met158 allele with greater signal change in the vmPFC and vlPFC. Signal changes in the amygdala and vmPFC were not associated with disease expression. However, in the right vlPFC the Met158 allele was associated with greater activation in all family members with affective morbidity compared with relatives without a psychiatric diagnosis and healthy controls.
Our results suggest that the COMT Val158Met polymorphism has a pleiotropic effect within the neural networks subserving emotional processing. Furthermore the Met158 allele further reduces cortical efficiency in the vlPFC in individuals with affective morbidity.
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