Home » Diagnostic Tools » Diagnostic Tools Part 1 – MRI and fMRI

Diagnostic Tools Part 1 – MRI and fMRI

They’re always looking for a way to diagnose mental illness using the physical body, assuming the physical and mental are somehow interconnected. I’m going to go over popular diagnostic tools and sho how effective they are in diagnosing, or confirming a bipolar disorder diagnosis.




Magnetic resonance imaging is in the works of becoming a diagnostic tool for bipolar disorder, according to the researchers at the Royal College of Psychiatrists International Congress.(1)

A function MRI (or fMRI) can be used to scan the neural pathways and DTI (Diffusion Tension Imaging) can scan the brains white matter.

So far, scans of brains of those with depression or bipolar disorder have shown differences from the brains of those who do not have these conditions. “Functionally coupled” activity is shown in two parts of the brain: the amygdala(2) and the pre-frontal cortex(3).

Those with bipolar disorder had an increased right lateral ventricular(4), left temporal lobe(5) and right putamen(6) volume. If the patients were taking lithium, hippocampal(7) and amygdala(2) volume were significantly increased. Cerebral volume reduction was associated with illness duration in bipolar individuals.


In conclusion, there is hope out there for a fairly simple diagnostic test for bipolar disorder. It can even be used to predict bipolar disorder.



  1. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/192747.php

  2. The amygdala processes emotions.

  3. The pre-frontal cortex is important for emotional regulation.

  4. Protects the brain from trauma.

  5. Information retrieval, reading, emotional stability, memory, sensory processing

  6. Regulate movements and influence various types of learning.

  7. Plays a role in memory, spatial navigation and control of attention.


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