Postural control problems may be an important feature of bipolar disorder. This feature can provide insight into regions of the brain affected by the disorder and may pave for potential targets for treatment, suggests study by motor control and psychology researchers at Indiana University.
Bipolar disorder is a severe psychiatric disorder characterized by extreme, debilitating mood swings and unusual shifts in a person's energy and ability to function.
"For a number of psychological disorders, many different psychiatric treatments and therapies have been tried, with marginal effects over the long term. Researchers are really starting to look at new targets," said lead author of the study Amanda R. Bolbecker, research scientist in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in IU's College of Arts and Sciences.
"Our study suggests that brain areas traditionally believed to be responsible for motor behavior might represent therapeutic targets for bipolar disorder."
In the study, participants who had bipolar disorder displayed more postural sway, particularly when their eyes were closed, than study participants who had no psychological disorders. The troubles, which involved the study participants' proprioception, or ability to process non-visual sensory information related to balance, were not affected by their mood or the severity of their disorder.
"It appears that people with bipolar disorder process sensory information differently and this is seen in their inability to adapt their movement patterns to different conditions, such as eyes open vs. eyes closed or feet together vs.
feet apart," said S. Lee Hong, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology in IU's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and a study co-author.
"The different conditions will cause people to use the information their senses provide differently, in order to allow them to maintain their balance," added Hong.
The study has been published in the Public Library of Science ONE.