Voxel-based morphometry study of the insular cortex in bipolar depression

Li-Rong Tang, Chun-Hong Liu, Bin Jing, Xin Ma, Hai-Yun Li, Yu Zhang, Feng Li, Yu-Ping Wang, Zhi Yang, Chuan-Yue Wang
Psychiatry Research 2014 November 30, 224 (2): 89-95
Bipolar depression (BD) is a common psychiatric illness characterized by deficits in emotional and cognitive processing. Abnormalities in the subregions of the insula are common findings in neuroanatomical studies of patients with bipolar disorder. However, the specific relationships between morphometric changes in specific insular subregions and the pathogenesis of BD are not clear. In this study, structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to investigate gray matter volume abnormalities in the insular subregion in 27 patients with BD and in 27 age and sex-matched controls. Using DARTEL (diffeomorphic anatomical registration through exponentiated lie algebra) for voxel-based morphometry (VBM), we examined changes in regional gray matter volumes of the insula in patients with BD. As compared with healthy controls, the BD patients showed decreased gray matter volumes in the right posterior insula and left ventral anterior insula and increased gray matter volumes in the left dorsal anterior insula. Consistent with the emerging theory of insular interference as a contributor to emotional-cognitive dysregulation, the current findings suggest that the insular cortex may be involved in the neural substrates of BD.

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