Physical activity is associated with left corticospinal tract microstructure in bipolar depression.

Bracht, Tobias; Steinau, Sarah; Federspiel, Andrea; Schneider, Christoph; Wiest, Roland; Walther, Sebastian (2018). Physical activity is associated with left corticospinal tract microstructure in bipolar depression. NeuroImage: Clinical, 20, pp. 939-945. Elsevier 10.1016/j.nicl.2018.09.033

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Psychomotor retardation and reduced daily activities are core features of the depressive syndrome including bipolar disorder (BD). It was the aim of this study to investigate white matter microstructure of the motor system in BD during depression and its association with motor activity. We hypothesized reduced physical activity, microstructural alterations of motor tracts and different associations between activity levels and motor tract microstructure in BD. Nineteen bipolar patients with a current depressive episode (BD) and 19 healthy controls (HC) underwent diffusion weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI)-scans. Quantitative motor activity was assessed with 24 h actigraphy recordings. Bilateral corticospinal tracts (CST), interhemispheric connections between the primary motor cortices (M1) and between the pre-supplementary motor areas (pre-SMA) were reconstructed individually based on anatomical landmarks using Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) based tractography. Mean fractional anisotropy (FA) was sampled along the tracts. To enhance specificity of putative findings a segment of the optic radiation was reconstructed as comparison tract. Analyses were complemented with Tract Based Spatial Statistics (TBSS) analyses. BD had lower activity levels (AL). There was a sole increase of fractional anisotropy (FA) in BD in the left CST. Further, there was a significant group x AL interaction for FA of the left CST pointing to a selective positive association between FA and AL in BD. The comparison tract and TBSS analyses did not detect significant group differences. Our results point to white matter microstructure alterations of the left CST in BD. The positive association between motor activity and white matter microstructure suggests a compensatory role of the left CST for psychomotor retardation in BD.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Radiology, Neuroradiology and Nuclear Medicine (DRNN) > Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiology
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > Translational Research Center

UniBE Contributor:

Bracht, Tobias, Steinau, Sarah, Federspiel, Andrea, Schneider, Christoph (A), Wiest, Roland Gerhard Rudi, Walther, Sebastian


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Martin Zbinden

Date Deposited:

22 Oct 2018 09:44

Last Modified:

29 Mar 2023 23:36

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Bipolar disorder Depression Diffusion tensor imaging Motor system




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