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Although numerous studies have used functional neuroimaging to identify executive dysfunction in patients with bipolar disorder (BD), the findings are not consistent. The aim of this meta-analysis is to identify the most reliable functional anomalies in BD patients during performance of Executive Function (EF) tasks.
A web-based search was performed on publication databases to identify functional magnetic resonance imaging studies of BD patients performing EF tasks and a voxel-based meta-analytic method known as anisotropic Effect Size Signed Differential Mapping (ES-SDM) was used to identify brain regions which showed anomalous activity in BD patients compared with healthy controls (HC).
Twenty datasets consisting of 463 BD patients and 484 HC were included. Compared with HC, BD patients showed significant hypo-activation or failure of activation in the left striatum (p = 0.00007), supplementary motor area (BA 6, p = 0.00037), precentral gyrus (BA 6, p = 0.0014) and cerebellum (BA 37, p = 0.0019), and hyper-activation in the left gyrus rectus (BA 11, p ≈ 0) and right middle temporal gyrus (BA 22, p = 0.00031) during performance of EF tasks. Sensitivity and subgroup analyses showed that the anomaly of left striatum is consistent across studies and present in both euthymic and BD I patients.
Patients with BD consistently showed abnormal activation in the cortico-striatal system during performance of EF tasks compared with HC. Failure of activation of the striatum may be a reliable marker for impairment in performance of especially inhibition tasks by patients with BD.
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