Gender differences in prepulse inhibition (PPI) in bipolar disorder: men have reduced PPI, women have increased PPI Academic Article uri icon


  • Prepulse inhibition (PPI) is a measure of sensorimotor gating or information processing. Few studies have examined PPI in bipolar disorder (BD); two studies reported a PPI disruption and two reported no change. There are gender differences in PPI and within the clinical profile of BD, which may explain some of these discrepancies. Thus, the effect of gender on PPI in BD was the focus of the current study. Euthymic BD patients (14 male/15 female) were compared to age- and IQ-matched healthy control participants (16 male/16 female). Assessment of PPI included 21 pulse-alone trials (115 dB) and a total of 42 prepulse-pulse trials (seven of each prepulse: 74, 78, 86 dB) at two stimulus onset asynchrony levels (SOA: 60, 120 ms). There was a group x SOA and a group x gender interaction, reflecting that men with BD showed reduced PPI compared to control males at the 60-ms SOA (3% in BD vs. 26% in controls), but not the 120-ms SOA. In contrast, women with BD had significantly increased PPI compared to female controls at the 120-ms SOA (49% in BD vs. 29% in controls), but not the 60-ms SOA. Compared to control participants BD patients showed changes in PPI, which are gender-dependent; male BD participants had reduced PPI, whereas female BD participants had increased PPI. This gender difference highlights the need to consider men and women with BD as two distinct groups, at least in PPI studies.

publication date

  • October 2009