BACKGROUND: Previous magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies indicate that compared with healthy volunteers, patients with bipolar disorder have structural and functional abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex. The aim of this study was to investigate differences in prefrontal subregions between bipolar patients and healthy subjects. METHODS: Bipolar patients hospitalized for a manic episode (n = 17), and demographically matched healthy volunteers (n = 12) were recruited. Contiguous 1-mm coronal T1-weighted MRI slices were obtained using a Picker 1.5 Tesla scanner. The gray and white matter volumes of five prefrontal subregions of interest were measured: superior, middle, inferior, cingulate, and orbital. RESULTS: Bipolar patients had smaller left prefrontal gray matter volumes, specifically in the middle and superior subregions and smaller right prefrontal gray matter volumes, specifically in the inferior and middle subregions. White matter differences were not observed in any of the prefrontal subregions. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that bipolar patients have subregion-specific gray matter volume reductions in the prefrontal cortex as compared to healthy subjects. Further investigations into the role of specific prefrontal subregions in bipolar disorder are warranted.
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