Control-related frontal-striatal function is associated with past suicidal ideation and behavior in patients with recent-onset psychotic major mood disorders

Michael J. Minzenberg, Tyler A. Lesh, Tara A Niendam, Jong H. Yoon, Yaoan Cheng, Remy N. Rhoades, Cameron S Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


Objective Suicide is highly-prevalent in major mood disorders, yet it remains unclear how suicidal ideation and suicidal behavior relate to brain functions, especially those that support control processes. We evaluated how prefrontal cortex (PFC) activity during goal-representation (an important component of cognitive control) relates to past suicidal ideation and behavior in patients with psychotic major mood disorders. Method 30 patients with recent-onset of either DSM-IV-TR-defined bipolar disorder type I (n=21) or major depressive disorder (n=9) with psychotic features, but neither in a major mood episode nor acutely psychotic at study, were evaluated for past suicidal ideation and behavior (Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale) and functional MRI during cognitive control task performance. Group-level regression models of brain activation accounted for current depression, psychosis and trait impulsivity. Results Intensity of past suicidal ideation was associated with higher control-related activation in right-hemisphere regions including the ventrolateral PFC (VLPFC) and orbitofrontal cortex, rostral insula, and dorsal striatum. Among those with past suicidal ideation (n=16), past suicidal behavior (n=8) was associated with higher control-related activation in right-hemisphere regions including VLPFC, rostrolateral PFC, and frontal operculum/rostral insula; and relatively lower activity in midline parietal regions, including cuneus and precuneus. Limitations The sample size of subjects with past suicidal behavior was modest, and all subjects were taking psychotropic medication. Conclusions This study provides unique evidence that in early-course psychotic major mood disorders, suicidal ideation and behavior histories directly relate to PFC-based circuit function in support of cognitive control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-209
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015



  • Bipolar I disorder
  • Cognitive control
  • Frontal cortex
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Psychosis
  • Suicide risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology

Cite this