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Longitudinal changes in brain activation during anticipation of monetary loss in bipolar disorder

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 December 2018

Anna Manelis*
Department of Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Richelle Stiffler
Department of Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Jeanette C. Lockovich
Department of Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Jorge R. C. Almeida
Dell Medical School, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA
Haris A. Aslam
Department of Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Mary L. Phillips
Department of Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Author for correspondence: Anna Manelis, E-mail:



Individuals with bipolar disorder (BD) show aberrant brain activation patterns during reward and loss anticipation. We examined for the first time longitudinal changes in brain activation during win and loss anticipation to identify trait markers of aberrant anticipatory processing in BD.


Thirty-four euthymic and depressed individuals with BD-I and 17 healthy controls (HC) were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging twice 6 months apart during a reward task.


HC, but not individuals with BD, showed longitudinal reductions in the right lateral occipital cortex (RLOC) activation during processing of cues predicting possible money loss (p-corrected <0.05). This result was not affected by psychotropic medication, mood state or the changes in depression/mania severity between the two scans in BD. Elevated symptoms of subthreshold hypo/mania at baseline predicted more aberrant longitudinal patterns of RLOC activation explaining 12.5% of variance in individuals with BD.


Increased activation in occipital cortex during negative outcome anticipation may be related to elevated negative emotional arousal during anticipatory cue processing. One interpretation is that, unlike HC, individuals with BD were not able to learn at baseline that monetary losses were smaller than monetary gains and were not able to reduce emotional arousal for negative cues 6 months later. Future research in BD should examine how modulating occipital cortical activation affects learning from experience in individuals with BD.

Original Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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