Youth at High Risk for Bipolar Disorder Show White Matter Tract Abnormalities

June 24, 2013 · Posted in Risk Factors · Comment 

white brainAt a recent scientific conference, researcher Donna Roybal presented research showing that children at high risk of developing bipolar disorder due to a positive family history of the illness had some abnormalities in important white matter tracts in the brain. Prior to illness onset, there was increased fractional anisotropy (FA), a sign of white matter integrity, but following the onset of full-blown bipolar illness there were decreases in FA.

Roybal postulated that these findings show an increased connectivity of brain areas prior to illness onset, but some erosion of the white matter tracts with illness progression.

Editor’s Note:  It will be critical to replicate these findings in order to better define who is at highest risk for bipolar disorder so that attempts at prevention can be explored.