For several years, neuroimaging studies have noted differences in the prefrontal cortex and limbic areas (which includes the hippocampus) of the brains of individuals with bipolar disorder compared to those without bipolar disorder. Now, a new study is suggesting that the genes and proteins found in the striatum are linked to bipolar disorder as well. The striatum acts as a reward pathway and helps to regulate motivation among other things.
“Our finding of a link between bipolar disorder and the striatum at the molecular level complements studies that implicate the same brain region in bipolar disorder at the anatomical level, including functional imaging studies that show altered activity in the striatum of bipolar subjects during tasks that involve balancing reward and risk,” said Research Associate Rodrigo Pacifico, who was first author of the new study.
Researchers are hoping that their findings will lead to the development of diagnostics and treatments.
The more research I find, such as this, the more I realize that bipolar is so much more than a “chemical imbalance.” It truly is a brain disorder. Our brains are anatomically and molecularly different from those without bipolar. It’s so much more than a simple lack of neurotransmitters (i.e., serotonin, dopamine, etc.)
We should all be proud of the progress we’ve made considering what we are up against. Thank goodness for continued research which will hopefully lead to improved treatments. Let’s continue to do our part by taking care of ourselves as best as we can and never giving up!
Source: The Scripps Research Institute