Although we have gained enormous insights into neurobiological and psychological underpinnings of bipolar disorder (BD) symptoms, our knowledge concerning pathogenic mechanisms initiating recurrent affective episodes is still fragmentary. Previous research has highlighted the role of significant life events and social rhythm in recurrent episodes of mania and depression. However, most studies share the drawback of retrospective self-report data, which are prone to recall biases and limited introspective abilities. Therefore, more objective data, such as neuropsychological and neurobiological measures are needed to further unravel the pathogenic mechanisms of the dynamics of bipolar disorder. Previous research has highlighted disturbed emotional reactivity as well as impaired emotion regulation and impulse control as major behavioural characteristics of BD and aberrancies in prefrontal–limbic–striatal networks that have been proposed to be the correlates of these behavioural alterations. However, longitudinal studies assessing these neural and behavioural alterations are rare. Future research should therefore adopt prospective study designs including behavioural and neuroimaging measures underlying cognitive, emotional and motivational deficits in bipolar disorder. Particularly, these measures should be collected continuously at multiple time points as implemented in modern ambulatory assessment tools.