Bipolar disorder in the balance

Brian J. Lithgow*, Zahra Moussavi, Caroline Gurvich, Jayashri Kulkarni, Jerome J. Maller, Paul B. Fitzgerald

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Bipolar disorder (BD) is a severe mood disorder that lacks established electrophysiological, neuroimaging or biological markers to assist with both diagnosis and monitoring disease severity. This study’s aim is to describe the potential of new neurophysiological features assistive in BD diagnosis and severity measurement utilizing the recording of electrical activity from the outer ear canal called Electrovestibulography (EVestG). From EVestG data sensory vestibulo-acoustic features were extracted from a single supine-vertical translation stimulus to distinguish 50 depressed and partly remitted/remitted bipolar disorder patients [18 symptomatic (BD-S, MADRS > 19), 32 reduced symptomatic (BD-R, MADRS ≤ 19)] and 31 age and gender matched healthy individuals (controls). Six features were extracted from the measured firing pattern interval histogram and the extracted shape of the average field potential response. Five of the six features had low but significant correlations (p < 0.05) with the MADRS assessment. Using leave-one-out-cross-validation, unbiased parametric and non-parametric classification routines resulted in 75–79%, 84–86%, 76–85% and 79–82% accuracy for separation of control from BD, BD-S and BD-R as well as BD-S from BD-R groups, respectively. The main limitation of this study was the inability to fully disentangle the impact of prescribed medication from the responses recorded. A mix of stationary and movement evoked EVestG features produced good discrimination between control and BD patients whether BD-S or BD-R. Moreover, BD-S and BD-R appear to have measurably different pathophysiological manifestations. The firing pattern features used were dissimilar to those observed in a prior major depressive disorder study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)761-775
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


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