Recent studies show that the brain cells of patients with bipolar disorder are more sensitive to stimuli than other people’s brain cells. “Researchers hadn’t all agreed that there was a cellular cause to bipolar disorder,” says Rusty Gage, a professor in Salk’s Laboratory of Genetics. “So our study is important validation that the cells of these patients really are different.”
The finding is among the first to show at a cellular level how the disorder affects the brain. Moreover, it reveals why some patients respond to treatment with lithium while others don’t.