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Brain Signals Differentiate Child Bipolar, Mood Disorder

Study in children shows brain electrical activity differs between two conditions during frustration tests

TUESDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Brain electrical activity measurements could help distinguish between bipolar disorder and severe mood dysregulation in children, according to a report in the February issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Brendan A. Rich, Ph.D., from the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues measured mood response, behavior and brain activity in subjects with severe mood dysregulation or narrow-phenotype bipolar disorder to compare the behavioral and psychophysiological correlates of irritability among children with either diagnosis.

During a test designed to induce frustration in the children, both groups reported more arousal than control comparison subjects. However, children with bipolar disorder had lower brain P3 electrical activity than children with mood dysregulation or comparison subjects. Children with mood dysregulation had abnormal attention-associated N1 signals showing that, while children with both diseases respond abnormally to frustration, they do so in different phases of brain activity.

"Our results indicate that there may be different psychophysiological mechanisms and behavioral correlates associated with frustration between children with narrow-phenotype bipolar disorder and those with severe mood dysregulation," the authors write.

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