The role of white matter in personality traits and affective processing in bipolar disorder

Isabelle E. Bauer, Mon Ju Wu, Thomas D. Meyer, Benson Mwangi, Austin Ouyang, Danielle Spiker, Giovana B. Zunta-Soares, Hao Huang, Jair C. Soares

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Bipolar disorder (BD) is characterized by affective processing bias and variations in personality traits. It is still unknown whether these features are linked to the same structural brain alterations. The aim of this study was to investigate relationships between specific personality traits, white matter (WM) properties, and affective processing in BD and HC. Methods: 24 healthy controls (HC) and 38 adults with BDI (HC: 29.47 ± 2.23 years, 15 females; BDI: 32.44 ± 1.84 years, 20 females) completed clinical scales and the Big Five Inventory. They were also administered the Affective Go/No-Go (AGN) and the Rapid Visual Processing (RVP) tasks of the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery. Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) assessed the microstructure of WM tracts. Results: In BDI measures of WM properties were reduced across all major brain white matter tracts. As expected, individuals with BDI reported greater neuroticism, lower agreeableness and conscientiousness, and made a greater number of errors in response to affective stimuli in the AGN task compared to HC. High neuroticism scores were associated with faster AGN latency, and overall reduced AGN accuracy in both HC and BDI. Elevated FA values were associated with reduced neuroticism and increased cognitive processing in HC but not in BDI. Conclusions: Our findings showed important potential links between personality, affective processing and WM integrity in BD. In the future therapeutic interventions for BD using brain stimulation protocols might benefit from the use of DTI to target pathways underlying abnormal affective processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-72
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Affective processing
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Diffusion imaging
  • Personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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