Belief updating in bipolar disorder predicts time of recurrence

Paolo Ossola, Neil Garrett, Tali Sharot, Carlo Marchesi

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Bipolar disorder is a chronic relapsing condition in which mood episodes are interspersed with periods of wellbeing (euthymia). Shorter periods of euthymia are associated with poorer functioning, so it is crucial to identify predictors of relapse to facilitate treatment. Here, we test the hypothesis that specific valence-dependent learning patterns emerge prior to the clinical manifestation of a relapse, predicting its timing. The ability to update beliefs in response to positive and negative information was quantified in bipolar patients during euthymia, who were then monitored for 5 years. We found that reduced tendency to update beliefs in response to positive relative to negative information predicted earlier relapse. Less updating in response to positive information may generate pessimistic beliefs, which in turn can lead to more severe prodromal symptoms (e.g. sleep disturbance, irritability etc.). The results suggest that measuring valence-dependent belief updating could facilitate risk prediction in bipolar disorder.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere58891
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2020

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