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Friday, August 22, 2014

People with bipolar are risk-takers.

Researchers at the Universities of Manchester and Liverpool have found that the circuits in the brain involved in pursuing and relishing rewarding experiences are more strongly activated in people with bipolar disorder -- guiding them towards riskier gambles and away from safer ones.

The Medical Research Council funded study will look at the neuroscience underlying the risky decisions made by people with bipolar. Researchers Dr Liam Mason and Professors Wael El-Deredy and Daniela Montaldi at The University of Manchester, in collaboration with Professor Richard Bentall and Dr Noreen O'Sullivan at the University of Liverpool, invited participants to play a game of Roulette in which they made safe or risky gambles. The researchers measured brain activity throughout using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Their findings found a dominance of the brain's "pleasure centre" which drives us to seek out and pursue rewards, this area of the brain was more strongly activated in people with bipolar disorder compared to a healthy control group.

Another difference arose in the prefrontal cortex the part of the brain which is associated with conscious thought. It gives us the ability to coordinate our drives, and impulses, that allow people to make decision that are less immediately rewarding but better in the long run.

The researcher found for the control participants, their prefrontal cortex guided them to safe gambles and away from riskier gambles, for the group with bipolar the opposite was show there prefrontal cortex guided towards more risky gambles.

Now this have some good and some bad as Professor Wael El-Deredy said: "The greater buzz that people with bipolar disorder get from reward is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it helps people strive towards their goals and ambitions, which may contribute to the success enjoyed by many people with this diagnosis. However, it comes at a cost: these same people may be swayed more by immediate rewards when making decisions and less by the long-term consequences of these actions."

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