Genetics, Brain Structure, and Behavior Presentation

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Slide 2 Notes

Bipolar Disorder affects nearly 1.7% of the population of the United States at one time or another (Nevid & Rathus, 2005). This is a large enough percentage to warrant a thorough observation of the neurological damage and behavior changes that can accompany the disorder, as well as the causes of the illness, treatment and future research concerning the illness, and the role that genetics plays in the development of the illness. 

Slide 3 Notes

Let’s say that a particular individual seems sad a lot of the time. Yet there are times when this particular individual wears flamboyant clothes, goes on shopping sprees, and seems a little ‘over the top’ with delusions of grandeur (Read and Purse, 2009). This person could be very moody and with no apparent explanation. It could be that the person suffers from bi-polar disorder. Bi-polar disorder causes a person to have extreme mood swings and is often confused with other types of depression (, 2009). The mood swings are described as episodes, and there are different levels of bi-polar disorder. So what causes this disorder to happen? How does it affect people differently? And is it treatable/curable? These are a few of the topics that will be covered. 

Slide 4 Notes

The lifetime prevalence of bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder is estimated at 1.0 and 1.5 percent, with a typical age of onset between 12 and 44 years (Nevid & Rathus, 2005). According to the Surgeon General of the United States of America at any given time 1.7% of the American population is affected by bipolar disorder (Statistics, 2009). Furthermore, Chang et. al. (2005) concluded after a thorough cross-discipline survey of available literature that Switzerland has a prevalence rate of 11% for bipolar affective disorder in young adults, Holland has a 6-month prevalence of mania in 1.9% of adolescents; and that 1.2% of youth in Denmark and 1.7% of adolescents in Finland are hospitalized every year for mania or hypomania. In Australia bipolar affective disorders accounted for 15,943 hospitalizations from 2001-2002, with an additional 0.7 out of every 10,000 Australians being hospitalized in public psychiatric hospitals in the same time-frame. In addition, bipolar affective disorder was involved in 0.11% of hospital consultant episodes in England, with 90% of hospital consultant episodes requiring hospital admission. Bipolar disorder is considered a rare disorder by Orphanet, an academic organization devoted to the study and treatment of rare diseases, because it affects less than 1 in 2,000 people worldwide. This data suggests that a relatively small cross-section of the population is afflicted by bipolar disorder, but that a disproportionate amount of those afflicted are young adults and adolescents.

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Slide 5 Notes

Behavioral changes in those suffering from bipolar disorder change from patient to patient.  The most commonly seen behavioral changes occur when the individual is in either a manic or depressed state. In depressed state the patient could be quiet, withdrawn or detached from those around them, lose their appetite and have increased sleeping habits (Kalat, 2004). And the manic states are characterized by almost the exact opposite behaviors. The person can be restless, aggressive, easily irritated, excited, have uncontrollable laughter and rambling speech. Also the persons self confidence seems to rise while the level of inhibitions seems to deteriorate. As the individual moves through these cycles behaviors could take anywhere from a day to a week to change and it is exhausting for the patient to go through different states.

When the average individual thinks of bipolar, it may be thought of as just a minor shift in one’s behavior for a brief period in time, not realizing that it is a very serious illness that may have lasting, damaging effects on the brain or the nervous system as a whole. “A study by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center indicates that people with bipolar disorder may suffer from progressive brain damage” (University of California, 2003). Over two million Americans currently suffer from bipolar disorder. There was a study done with two controlled groups of patients being diagnosed with bipolar and others that were healthy. The controlled groups consisted of male subjects. “The study found significantly lower concentrations of NAA (is the second most abundant amino acid—next to glutamate—present in the brain tissue) in the right hippocampus of males with bipolar disorder when compared to the control group. They also found that for the right hippocampus, bipolar patients who had the disease the longest had the lowest levels of the amino acid” (University of California).

It is also said by an article written by Carrie Bearden PhD and some of her counter parts at the University of Pennsylvania which states that there are neuropsychological deficits which those findings were persistent in patients that have had the disease for long-term periods of time. “The relationship between these deficits and length of illness led the authors to suggest that “episodes of depression and mania may exact damage to learning and memory systems” (McManamy, 2009).

Another study was done by Deborah Yurgelun-Todd PhD of Harvard and it was found that there may be significant delays in a person suffering with bipolar disease and an inability to respond with correct answers and they also found a decreased activation in the region of the brain that processes tasks (McManamy, 2009). Also, in a study conducted, it was concluded that bipolar persons are affected by cognitive impairments.

Slide 6 Notes

Bipolar disorder is caused by many factors. “The diagnosis of bipolar disorder is based on the patient’s signs and symptoms, the course of the illness, and family history when available” (Murphy, 2006, p.60). One main reason for the onset of the illness is not specifically known although research suggests that bipolar disorder is a biological disorder (Bressert, 2007).  Genetics appears to be a common factor among individuals who have bipolar disorder. “A person who has one parent with bipolar disorder has a 15 to 25 percent chance of having the condition (Bressert, 2007, p.1).” Bipolar disorder is caused by a malfunction of neurotransmitters” (Bressert, 2007, p.1). The illness can remain dormant or triggered at any time by any life event. Bipolar disorder often surfaces with young adults with the onset of a traumatic experience or a stressful event. Men and women are both affected by bipolar disorder yet men appear to experience more manic episodes than woman. The illness is very common however, often individuals are misdiagnosed or untreated for extended periods which cause worse conditions.

Slide 7 Notes

“Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric disorder that causes people to alternate between episodes of depression and episodes of high energy or irritability (mania). In many people, episodes of either depression or mania are followed by periods of normal functioning. Bipolar disorder is also called manic-depressive illness. The cause of bipolar disorder is not completely understood, but it may be the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. It is not known what causes this chemical imbalance. The disorder may run in families.  Bipolar disorder occurs equally among males and females. It often begins between the ages of 15 and 24. There is no cure for bipolar disorder, but medicines and counseling may help control the symptoms. Seizure medicines and lithium are often used to treat bipolar disorder.”(Curtis, 2008)

Currently this condition is treated with the close monitoring of drugs accompanied by therapy sessions. The most effective drug to treat this chemical imbalance is lithium. “The evidence from a large number of clinical trials shows that lithium improves manic depression and reduces the risk of relapse. Although the results of these studies vary, it is probably fair to say that 80 per cent of bipolar patients respond positively to lithium. According to Lickey and Gordon (1991), without lithium the typical bipolar patient has a manic episode about every 14 months, whereas this mood swing occurs only every nine years if lithium is taken. To provide this type of protection, lithium has to be taken on a daily basis, although if the patient is carefully monitored there is little risk of toxicity or serious side-effects.” (Wickens, 2005)

Some other drugs are “those with bimodal stabilizing properties, such as lithium, carbamazepine, and quetiapine. In fact, on the strength of favorable efficacy data obtained in patients with major depressive symptoms accompanying bipolar disorder, quetiapine recently became the first agent to be indicated by the FDA for monotherapeutic use in the treatment of bipolar depression, including BPII depression. Aside from the aforementioned agents, lamotrigine also shows promise in the treatment of BPII.” (El-Mallakh, 2006)

Slide 8 Notes

The future treatment of this illness lies in the discovery of the gene that causes the condition in the DNA; science has yet to discover and correct the deficiency on the DNA for the prevention and eradication of the problem. This however has not been done. “In fact, evidence suggests that a single dominant gene is responsible for bipolar disorder, although the identification of this gene has yet to be achieved (Spence et al. 1995). ”Until then, doctors will continue to correct the imbalance with drugs and closed monitored one on one therapy session as well as with experimental clinical trials.

Slide 9 Notes (2009). What is bi-polar disease? GlaxoKlineSmith. Retrieved April 2nd, 2009 from

Bressert, S. (2007). The causes of bipolar disorder. Retrieved April 5, 2009, from

Curtis, J. (2008). Bipolar disorder. WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise. Retrieved March 4, 2009, from

Chang K.D., Díez-Suárez A., Escamilla-Canales I., Figueroa-Quintana A., Ortuño F., Rapado- Castro M., & Soutullo C.A. (2005). Bipolar disorder in children and adolescents: International perspective on epidemiology and phenomenology. Bipolar Disorder, 7(6), 497-506. Retrieved April 3, 2009, from PubMed Web site:

El-Mallakh, R. (2006). Bipolar II disorder: current and future treatment options.. Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY. Retrieved April 4, 2009, from

Kalat, James W. (2004) Biological Psychology. 8e. Wadsworth: Thomson Learning, Inc.

McManamy, J. (2009). The thought spectrum – When thinking is impaired. Retrieved April 5, 2009, From McMan’s Depression and Bipolar Web site:

Murphy, K. (2006). Managing the ups and downs of bipolar disorder. Nursing, 36(10), 58-64.

  Retrieved  April 5, 2009, from EBSCOHost database.

Nevid, J.S., & Rathus, S.A. (2005). Psychology and the challenges of life: Adjustment in the new millennium (9th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Slide 10 Notes

Read, K. & Purse, M. (2009). How to recognize a manic episode. Bi-Polar disorder. Retrieved April 2nd, 2009 from

Rey, C.M. (2003). Study suggests bipolar disorder may cause progressive brain damage. University of California. Retrieved April 5, 2009, from Eurekalert Web site: of oc–ssb050603.php

Statistics about bipolar disorder. (2009). Retrieved April 3, 2009, from Wrong Diagnosis Web site:

Wickens, A. (2005). Foundations of biopsychology, 2e. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Hall.

Presentation Topic

  • Create Genetics, Brain Structure, and Behavior presentation due Week Two.
  • Prepare a presentation of 10-12 Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides (with presenter notes) illustrating your Genetics, Brain Structure, and Behavior Paper.

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