"The Neurophysiology of Biopolar Disorder: Clues from Neuroimaging"


Location: Hesburgh Center Auditorium

Stephen M. Strakowski, M.D.
Senior Vice President Strategy and Transformation, UC Health
Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Psychology
University of Cincinnati

Bipolar disorder is a leading cause of morbidity worldwide. It is strongly heritable (85%), and the symptoms and signs of bipolar disorder suggest abnormalities within brain systems that control emotional function. These prefrontal-striatal-thalamic iterative networks modulate amygdala, ‘cognitive’ regions of the prefrontal cortex, hypothalamus, and other components of the limbic system. Unfortunately, there are no animal models for bipolar disorder, challenging us to identify approaches toward clarifying its neurophysiology. In the last 10-15 years, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques have permitted the in vivo exploration of the neurophysiology of bipolar disorder. Structural imaging suggests morphometric abnormalities in emotional networks that progress during adolescence and over time. Functional imaging demonstrates a disconnect in prefrontal modulation of amygdala activation, critical for healthy emotional function. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy suggests metabolic abnormalities in this network as well, particularly in the striatum. As imaging techniques continue to advance, the neurophysiology of bipolar disorder will become even better understood.


Stephen M. Strakowski, M.D., is Senior Vice President of Strategy and Transformation in UC Health, and Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, Psychology and  Biomedical Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Strakowski graduated summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame with a BSE in 1984 and Alpha Omega Alpha from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine with an MD in 1988. He completed residency training at McLean Hospital/Harvard University School of Medicine in 1992. Upon completing residency, he moved to the University of Cincinnati as an Assistant Professor, where he has been promoted to his current positions. 

Academically, Dr. Strakowski is a Professor of Psychiatry, as well as a Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Psychology at the University of Cincinnati.  Since 1994 he has been a consultant at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and was a Senior Consulting Psychiatrist for the Ohio Department of Mental Health at Summit Behavioral Health Center from 1994-1998.  From 2002-2004 Dr. Strakowski was an Attending Physician, Director of Clinical Research and a Consulting Psychiatrist at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Cincinnati. Since 2006 he has been the Clinical Chief of Psychiatry at University Hospital.

Dr. Strakowski is a world-renowned expert in the study and treatment of bipolar disorder, which is his clinical specialty. In this regard, he has been recognized by US News and World Report, Women’s Health, Castle-Connolly and Best Doctors as one of the top doctors in the United States. He believes in approaching the treatment of mental illness programmatically, drawing from the evidence base for pharmacologic, psychological, and lifestyle interventions to improve outcomes.