The role of intrinsic brain functional connectivity in vulnerability and resilience to bipolar disorder

Gaelle E. Doucet, Danielle S. Bassett, Nailin Yao, David C. Glahn, Sophia Frangou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Objective: Bipolar disorder is a heritable disorder characterized by mood dysregulation associated with brain functional dysconnectivity. Previous research has focused on the detection of risk- and disease-associated dysconnectivity in individuals with bipolar disorder and their first-degree relatives. The present study seeks to identify adaptive brain connectivity features associated with resilience, defined here as avoidance of illness or delayed illness onset in unaffected siblings of patients with bipolar disorder. Method: Graph theoretical methods were used to examine global and regional brain network topology in head-motion-corrected resting-state functional MRI data acquired from 78 patients with bipolar disorder, 64 unaffected siblings, and 41 healthy volunteers. Results: Global network properties were preserved in patients and their siblings while both groups showed reductions in the cohesiveness of the sensorimotor network. In the patient group, these sensorimotor network abnormalities were coupled with reduced integration of core default mode network regions in the ventromedial cortex and hippocampus. Conversely, integration of the default mode network was increased in the sibling group compared with both the patient group and the healthy volunteer group. Conclusions: The authors found that trait-related vulnerability to bipolar disorder was associated with reduced resting-state cohesiveness of the sensorimotor network in patients with bipolar disorder. However, integration of the default mode network emerged as a key feature differentiating disease expression and resilience between the patients and their siblings. This is indicative of the presence of neural mechanisms that may promote resilience, or at least delay illness onset.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1214-1222
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2017


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