Effects of Age, Sex, and Independent Life Events on Amygdala and Nucleus Accumbens Volumes in Child Bipolar I Disorder

Barbara Geller*, Michael P. Harms, Lei Wang, Rebecca Tillman, Melissa P. DelBello, Kristine Bolhofner, John G. Csernansky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background: Relationships between environment and cortical-limbic-striatal pathways are not well-researched in child bipolar I disorder (BP-I). Methods: This was a controlled, blindly rated magnetic resonance imaging study of children with DSM-IV BP-I, manic or mixed type, compared with matched typically developing children (TC). Results: There were 47 subjects (21 BP-I, 26 TC) aged 14.0 ± 3.1 (BP-I onset age 8.8 ± 4.2). Total intracranial volume was greater in male subjects (n = 28) versus female subjects (n = 19) [F(1,44) = 24.3, p < .001], controlling for age. Volumes were not significantly different in BP-I and TC groups, after accounting for multiple comparisons, in the medial orbital frontal cortex, rostral anterior cingulate cortex, hippocampus, amygdala (AMG), or nucleus accumbens (NAcc). Across subjects (n = 47), a greater number of independent life events (ILE) was associated with smaller AMG [F(1,36) = 7.8, p = .009] and NAcc [F(1,36) = 9.4, p = .004] volumes, controlling for total intracranial volume (TICV), group, age, sex, and family psychopathology. Use of stimulant medication at the time of the scan was associated with larger AMG volume [F(1,41) = 9.0, p = .005], controlling for TICV, group, age, and sex. In male subjects, the age × group interaction was a significant predictor in general linear models of AMG (p = .028) and NAcc (p = .030) volumes. Effects of low maternal warmth were not significant. Conclusions: Findings suggest that ILE affect AMG and NAcc volume, but further research is needed to examine specificity to child BP-I. Furthermore, differential age × group (child BP-I vs. TC) effects only in male subjects are consistent with differential brain development by sex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)432-437
Number of pages6
JournalBiological psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2009


  • Adolescent
  • MRI
  • bipolar I disorder
  • child
  • independent life events

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of Age, Sex, and Independent Life Events on Amygdala and Nucleus Accumbens Volumes in Child Bipolar I Disorder'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this