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Patterns of Autobiographical Memory in Bipolar Disorder Examined by Psychometric and Functional Neuroimaging Methods

Oertel-Knöchel, Viola PhD*; Reinke, Britta MSc*; Hornung, Alexandra*; Knöchel, Christian*; Matura, Silke MSc*; Knopf, Monika; Prvulovic, David PhD*; O’Dwyer, Laurence PhD*; Lindner, Michael PhD*; Rau, Alexandra*; Hampel, Harald*; Haenschel, Corinna PhD*‡; Linden, David E.J.§∥

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: April 2012 - Volume 200 - Issue 4 - p 296–304
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31824ceef7
Original Articles

This is the first study to combine psychometric and functional neuroimaging methods to study altered patterns of autobiographical memory in bipolar disorder (BD). All participants were interviewed with an expanded version of the Bielefelder Autobiographical Memory Inventory (Bielefelder Autobiographisches Gedächtnis Inventar 2004;Lisse: Swets and Zeitlinger). We then acquired functional magnetic resonance imaging data during a task of individually designed autobiographical recall. Compared with healthy controls, BD patients reported a stronger emotionality of autobiographical memories and more frequent recollections of autobiographical events during their everyday life. Furthermore, they failed to deactivate areas in the cuneus and lingual gyrus and showed decreased activation in the inferior frontal and precentral areas compared with the control group. More frequent intrusions from a person’s past, which had a neural correlate in the lack of deactivation in some default mode network areas in BD patients, may contribute to manic or depressive symptoms.

*Laboratory of Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Goethe-University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany; †Department of Developmental Psychology, Goethe-University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany; ‡City University, London, United Kingdom; §School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom; and ∥MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics & Genomics, Department of Psychological Medicine and Neurology, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom.

Send reprint requests to Viola Oertel-Knöchel, Phd, Laboratory of Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy; Heinrich-Hoffmann-Str. 10, Goethe-University, 60528 Frankfurt. E-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.