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BACKGROUND: The pathophysiology of abnormal mood states-mania and depression-in patients with bipolar disorder remains unclear. Facial affect processing paradigms are an effective way of studying behavioral and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) correlates of affective disorders. METHODS: We used a factorial design to measure the neural correlates of tasks, tapping explicit and implicit recognition of sad, fearful, and happy facial expressions using event-related fMRI paradigms in three groups of participants: eight bipolar depressed patients, eight bipolar manic patients, and eight control subjects. RESULTS: Depressed and manic patients exhibited overactivated responses to fearful faces, as well as to mood-incongruent facial expressions, with the depressed group exhibiting overactivity in fronto-striato-thalamic systems in response to happy faces and the manic group exhibiting overactivity in the fusiform gyrus in response to sad faces. For manic patients, task type also affected the neural response to sad faces, with the corticolimbic regions showing overactivation for implicit processing and underactivation for explicit processing. CONCLUSIONS: Depressed and manic patients exhibited abnormal neural responses to sad, fearful, and happy facial expressions. Additionally, the attentional level of sad facial affect processing has important consequences for abnormalities of amygdala and cingulate activation in manic patients.

Original publication




Journal article


Biol Psychiatry

Publication Date





31 - 39


Adult, Affect, Analysis of Variance, Bipolar Disorder, Brain, Brain Mapping, Facial Expression, Female, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Middle Aged, Neuropsychological Tests, Oxygen, Recognition (Psychology)