Neural correlates of reward processing distinguish healthy youth at familial risk for bipolar disorder from youth at familial risk for major depressive disorder. Translational psychiatry Nimarko, A. F., Gorelik, A. J., Carta, K. E., Gorelik, M. G., Singh, M. K. 1800; 12 (1): 31


Youth at familial risk for bipolar disorder (BD-risk) and major depressive disorder (MDD-risk) have aberrant reward processing, a core feature of these mood disorders. Whether BD risk differentiates from MDD risk in reward processing merits further study. We compared neural activation and connectivity during anticipation and outcome of monetary gain and loss during fMRI using the Monetary Incentive Delay (MID) Task among BD-risk (n=40), MDD-risk (n=41), and healthy comparison youth (HC) (n=45), in the absence of any lifetime or current history of psychopathology [mean age 13.09±2.58, 56.3% female]. Participants completed the MID task at baseline and were followed for behavioral and clinical outcomes over 4.37±2.29 years. Region-of-interest (ROI) analyses conducted using anatomically defined thalamus, ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens, and putamen seeds showed that relative to MDD-risk and HC, BD-risk had decreased activation of the thalamus during anticipation of monetary gain [F(2,118)=4.64, p=0.01 (FDR-corrected p=0.04)]. Psychophysiological interaction analyses revealed that BD-risk had less connectivity between the thalamus and left middle frontal gyrus (Z>3.1, p<0.001) and left-superior temporal gyrus (Z>3.1, p<0.05) compared with MDD-risk. Voxelwise, BD-risk had decreased activation in the cerebellum during anticipation and outcome of monetary gain relative to MDD-risk and HC (Z>3.1, p<0.001; Z>3.1, p<0.01). In BD-risk, decreased thalamic connectivity was associated with increased impulsivity at baseline and reduced prosocial behavior at follow-up. Reduced thalamic activation and connectivity during reward processing may distinguish familial risk for BD from familial risk for MDD and represent early markers of vulnerability that may herald social dysfunction later in adolescence.

View details for DOI 10.1038/s41398-022-01800-9

View details for PubMedID 35075136