University of Illinois at Chicago researchers using functional MRI found the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex region of the brain is less active in patients with pediatric bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder than in controls. The prefrontal cortex controls behavior such as impulsivity, executive function, and cognitive processes such as working memory, attention, and language.
The researchers imaged children aged 10 to 18 with fMRI as they performed a working memory task. Subjects with bipolar disorder exhibited greater deployment of the emotion-processing circuitry and reduced deployment of working memory circuitry compared with healthy subjects. Commonalities with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder included corticosubcortical activity that was reduced under negative emotional challenge and increased under positive emotional challenge (J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2010;49:1064-1080).
The goal of the research is to develop imaging markers of behavioral illness that can be used in a clinical setting, the authors said.