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Frontiers in Psychiatry


Purpose: Studies of the neural underpinnings of bipolar type I disorder have focused on the emotional control network. However, there is also growing evidence for cerebellar involvement, including abnormal structure, function, and metabolism. Here, we sought to assess functional connectivity of the cerebellar vermis with the cerebrum in bipolar disorder and to assess whether connectivity might depend on mood.

Methods: This cross-sectional study enrolled 128 participants with bipolar type I disorder and 83 control comparison participants who completed a 3 T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study, which included anatomical as well as resting state Blood Oxygenation Level Dependent (BOLD) imaging. Functional connectivity of the cerebellar vermis to all other brain regions was assessed. Based on quality control metrics of the fMRI data, 109 participants with bipolar disorder and 79 controls were included in the statistical analysis comparing connectivity of the vermis. In addition, the data was explored for the potential impacts of mood, symptom burden, and medication in those with bipolar disorder.

Results: Functional connectivity between the cerebellar vermis and the cerebrum was found to be aberrant in bipolar disorder. The connectivity of the vermis was found to be greater in bipolar disorder to regions involved in motor control and emotion (trending), while reduced connectivity was observed to a region associated with language production. In the participants with bipolar disorder, past depression symptom burden affected connectivity; however, no effects of medication were observed. Functional connectivity between the cerebellar vermis and all other regions revealed an inverse association with current mood ratings.

Conclusion: Together the findings may suggest that the cerebellum plays a compensatory role in bipolar disorder. The proximity of the cerebellar vermis to the skull may make this region a potential target for treatment with transcranial magnetic stimulation.



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bipolar disorder, cerebellar vermis, depression and bipolar disorder, mania and bipolar disorder, mood disorders, resting state functional imaging