Neural correlates of cognitive flexibility in children at risk for bipolar disorder

Pilyoung Kim, Sarah E. Jenkins, Megan E. Connolly, Christen M. Deveney, Stephen J. Fromm, Melissa A. Brotman, Eric E. Nelson, Daniel S. Pine, Ellen Leibenluft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Background: Youth with bipolar disorder (BD) show behavioral and neural deficits in cognitive flexibility; however, whether such deficits exist among youths at risk for BD has not been explored. Methods: The current fMRI study examined the neural basis of cognitive flexibility in BD youth (n = 28), unaffected youth at risk for BD (AR; n = 13), and healthy volunteer youth (HV; n = 21) by comparing brain activation patterns while participants performed the change task. On change trials, subjects must inhibit a prepotent response and execute an alternate one. Results: During successful change trials, both BD and AR youth had increased right ventrolateral prefrontal and inferior parietal activity, compared to HV youth. During failed change trials, both BD and AR youth exhibited increased caudate activation relative to HV youth, but BD youth showed increased activation in the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) relative to the other two groups. Conclusions: Abnormal activity in ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, inferior parietal cortex, and striatum during a cognitive flexibility task may represent a potential BD endophenotype, but subgenual ACC dysfunction may represent a marker of BD illness itself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-30
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this study was provided exclusively by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health. The funding sources had no further role in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the paper for publication.


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Cognitive control
  • Cognitive flexibility
  • FMRI
  • Relatives


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