Connectomic signatures of working memory deficits in depression, mania, and euthymic states of bipolar disorder

Document Type


Publication Date



Journal of Affective Disorders



First Page


Last Page


URL with Digital Object Identifier



Background: Working memory (WM) deficit is a feature persistently reported across mania, depression, and euthymic periods of bipolar disorder (BD). WM capacity relates to distributed brain regions that are systemically organized at the connectome level. It is not clear whether the same disruption of this network-level organization underlies the WM impairment seen in different phases of BD. Methods: We used graph theory to examine the topology of the functional connectome in different granularity in 143 subjects (72 with BD [32 depression; 15 mania; 25 euthymic] and 71 healthy controls) during a n-back task. Linear regression analysis was used to test associations of altered graph properties, clinical symptoms, and WM accuracy in patients. Results: Altered topological properties characterised by an increase in small-worldness of the whole-brain connectome, were specific for bipolar depressed, but not in manic and euthymic states. Depressed subjects showed a shift in the distribution of the number of connections per brain region (degree) within the connectome during WM task. Increased small-worldness related to worse WM accuracy in patients with more severe depression, anxiety and illness burden. Limitations: We used only 2-back load, limiting our ability to study the parametric effects of task demand. Conclusions: We demonstrate a putative state-dependent mechanistic link between connectome topology, hub re-distribution and impaired n-back performance in bipolar disorder. The aberrant task-dependent modulation of the connectome relates to worse WM performance especially when anxiety and depression are prominent in BD.