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Brain Structure and Function in Emotion Processing, Emotion Regulation, and Reward Processing Neural Circuitries in Offspring at Risk for Bipolar Disorder

Acuff, Heather (2018) Brain Structure and Function in Emotion Processing, Emotion Regulation, and Reward Processing Neural Circuitries in Offspring at Risk for Bipolar Disorder. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Bipolar Disorder (BD) is a serious psychiatric illness with demonstrated structural and functional abnormalities in emotion processing, emotion regulation, and reward processing neural circuitries. BD is also a highly heritable disorder, placing first-degree relatives of patients with BD at great risk for developing the disorder, themselves. There are many similarities, however, between BD and other psychiatric illnesses, such as Major Depressive Disorder, Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder, and Anxiety Disorders, which often makes it difficult to diagnose BD. By detecting abnormalities in neural measures and symptomatology that uniquely distinguish youth at risk for BD, we have the potential to identify objective biological markers of BD risk that may aid in the development of improved diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for BD. In this dissertation, we use elastic net regression analyses to examine structural, functional, and symptomatic measures in offspring of bipolar parents (OBP) compared with offspring of comparison parents with non-BD psychiatric disorders (OCP) and offspring of healthy parents (OHP). In chapter 3, we present findings demonstrating greater rostral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) activity when regulating attention away from positive (i.e. happy) emotions, as well as greater bilateral amygdala-left caudal ACC functional connectivity (FC) when regulating attention away from all (i.e. fearful, happy, and neutral) emotions in OBP compared with OCP. In chapter 4, we demonstrate lower right ventral striatum-left caudal ACC FC when processing loss and greater right pars orbitalis-orbitofrontal cortex FC when processing reward in OBP compared with both OCP and OHP. In chapter 5, we demonstrate inverse relationships between right cingulum-cingulate gyrus length and bilateral caudal ACC activity, as well as between forceps minor radial diffusivity and bilateral rostral ACC activity, when processing positive emotions in OBP compared with OCP. Throughout these analyses, significant relationships were observed between the ACC and affective lability severity. Together, these studies identify the ACC as a key neural region that may help distinguish youth at risk for BD from youth at risk for other psychiatric disorders. These findings provide specific neural and symptomatic targets which may improve the diagnosis and treatment of BD, leading to overall better outcomes for youth at risk for BD.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMcClung,
Thesis AdvisorPhillips,
Committee MemberDiwadkar,
Committee MemberForbes,
Committee MemberLuna,
Committee MemberVerstynen,
Date: 25 August 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 24 July 2018
Approval Date: 25 August 2018
Submission Date: 25 August 2018
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 281
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Medicine > Neurobiology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bipolar Disorder, Bipolar Offspring, Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Diffusion Tensor Imaging
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2018 03:05
Last Modified: 26 Aug 2018 03:05


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