New York: A new study suggests that deficits in frontal brain systems may be associated with the risk of suicide attempts in youths with mood disorders.
A team from Yale School of Medicine found that abnormalities in the pre-frontal cortex and related brain areas are observed in adolescents who have attempted suicide.
Most suicide attempts occur in the context of mood disorders, including bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder.
Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), lead researcher Hilary Blumberg and her colleagues examined brain structure and function in adolescents and young adults in the age group of 14 to 25.
Sixty eight participants with bipolar disorder, of whom 26 attempted suicide, were compared with 45 healthy volunteers matched for age and gender.
The investigators found that compared with bipolar patients who did not attempt suicide and healthy participants, those who attempted suicide showed less integrity of white matter in key frontal brain systems.
"What was remarkable was that the deficits in the structural connections were linked to weaker connections between the pre-frontal cortex and amygdala - integrative center for emotions, emotional behaviour and motivation," observed the authors.
It suggests the white matter abnormalities disrupt the ability of these system components to work together.
"This work presents an important first step in understanding the neurobiology of how suicidal thoughts and behaviours are generated," Blumberg noted.
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology in Phoenix, Arizona.