The aim of the present study was to map the pathophysiology of resting state functional connectivity accompanying structural and functional abnormalities in children with bipolar disorder.Methods
Children with bipolar disorder and demographically matched healthy controls underwent resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. A model-free independent component analysis was performed to identify intrinsically interconnected networks.Results
We included 34 children with bipolar disorder and 40 controls in our analysis. Three distinct resting state networks corresponding to affective, executive and sensorimotor functions emerged as being significantly different between the pediatric bipolar disorder (PBD) and control groups. All 3 networks showed hyperconnectivity in the PBD relative to the control group. Specifically, the connectivity of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) differentiated the PBD from the control group in both the affective and the executive networks. Exploratory analysis suggests that greater connectivity of the right amygdala within the affective network is associated with better executive function in children with bipolar disorder, but not in controls.Limitations
Unique clinical characteristics of the study sample allowed us to evaluate the pathophysiology of resting state connectivity at an early state of PBD, which led to the lack of generalizability in terms of comorbid disorders existing in a typical PBD population.Conclusion
Abnormally engaged resting state affective, executive and sensorimotor networks observed in children with bipolar disorder may reflect a biological context in which abnormal task-based brain activity can occur. Dual engagement of the dorsal ACC in affective and executive networks supports the neuroanatomical interface of these networks, and the amygdala’s engagement in moderating executive function illustrates the intricate interplay of these neural operations at rest.