Traits related to bipolar disorder are associated with an increased post-illumination pupil response

Ben Bullock, Elise M. McGlashan, Angus C. Burns, B. Sinh Lu, Sean W. Cain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Mood states in bipolar disorder appear to be closely linked to changes in sleep and circadian function. It has been suggested that hypersensitivity of the circadian system to light may be a trait vulnerability for bipolar disorder. Healthy persons with emotional-behavioural traits associated with bipolar disorder also appear to exhibit problems with circadian rhythms, which may be associated with individual differences in light sensitivity. This study investigated the melanopsin-driven post-illumination pupil response (PIPR) in relation to emotional-behavioural traits associated with bipolar disorder (measured with the General Behavior Inventory) in a non-clinical group (n = 61). An increased PIPR was associated with increased bipolar disorder-related traits. Specifically, the hypomania scale of the General Behavior Inventory was associated with an increased post-blue PIPR. Further, both the full hypomania and shortened ‘7 Up’ scales were significantly predicted by PIPR, after age, sex and depressive traits were controlled. These findings suggest that increased sensitivity to light may be a risk factor for mood problems in the general population, and support the idea that hypersensitivity to light is a trait vulnerability for, rather than symptom of, bipolar disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-41
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatry Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • Circadian rhythms
  • Hypomania
  • Individual differences
  • Light sensitivity
  • Melanopsin
  • Mood
  • PIPR

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