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BACKGROUND: Studies about brain structure in bipolar disorder have reported conflicting findings. These findings may be explained by the high degree of heterogeneity within bipolar disorder, especially if structural differences are mapped to single brain regions rather than networks. AIMS: We aim to complete a systematic review and meta-analysis to identify brain networks underlying structural abnormalities observed on T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scans in bipolar disorder across the lifespan. We also aim to explore how these brain networks are affected by sociodemographic and clinical heterogeneity in bipolar disorder. METHOD: We will include case-control studies that focus on whole-brain analyses of structural differences between participants of any age with a standardised diagnosis of bipolar disorder and controls. The electronic databases Medline, PsycINFO and Web of Science will be searched. We will complete an activation likelihood estimation analysis and a novel coordinate-based network mapping approach to identify specific brain regions and brain circuits affected in bipolar disorder or relevant subgroups. Meta-regressions will examine the effect of sociodemographic and clinical variables on identified brain circuits. CONCLUSIONS: Findings from this systematic review and meta-analysis will enhance understanding of the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder. The results will identify brain circuitry implicated in bipolar disorder, and how they may relate to relevant sociodemographic and clinical variables across the lifespan.

Original publication




Journal article


BJPsych Open

Publication Date





Bipolar disorders, connectivity, depressive disorders, other imaging, review