Biology,  Borderline Personality Disorder

Amazing new study on BPD from Science Magazine

Someone forwarded this information to me this morning….

Science, an extraordinarily selective and highly prestigious publication,
includes a report, “The Rupture and Repair of Cooperation in Borderline
Personality Disorder,” by Brooks King-Casas
and five collaborators
(including Peter Fonagy) in its August 8th issue. The editors of Science
felt this innovative research was of such potential importance that they
provided almost two full of Science’s limited pages for a commentary, “Trust
Me on This. Borderline personality disorder is associated with abnormal
activity in a brain region associated with monitoring trust in
by Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg.

The Brooks King-Casas, et al paper in Science is another indicator of
innovative, significant research with a high potential for traction that can
come from collaborations between an investigator with leading edge methods
and borderline pd investigators, and a reminder of the importance of
reaching out to engage and to fund other investigators for ventures into
borderline pd research. Such engagements and funding represent an important
route to gain more positive attention for borderline pd, to increase the
interest in research concerning the disorder, to open new pathways for
borderline pd research and possibly to grow the number of investigators for
an area of study for which new investigators are vital for maintaining even
a modicum of vigorous research activity.

Abstract of August 8th Science paper:

To sustain or repair cooperation during a social exchange, adaptive
creatures must understanding social gestures and the consequences when
shared expectations about fair exchange are violated by accident or intent.

We recruited 55 individuals afflicted with borderline personality disorder
(BPD) to play a multiround economic exchange game with healthy partners.
Behaviorally, individuals with BPD showed a profound incapacity to maintain
cooperation, and were impaired in their ability to repair broken cooperation
on the basis of a quantitative measures of coaxing. Neurally, activity in
the anterior insula, a region known to respond to norm violations across
affective, interoceptive, economic, and social dimensions, strongly
differentiated healthy participants from individuals with BPD. Healthy
subjects showed a strong linear relation between anterior insula response
and both magnitude of monetary offer received from their partner (input) and
the amount of money repaid to their partner (output). In stark contrast,
activity in the anterior insula of BPD participants was related only to the
magnitude of the repayment sent back to their partner (output), not to the
magnitude of offers received (input). These neural and behavioral data
suggest that norms used in perception of social gestures are pathologically
perturbed or missing altogether among individuals with BPD. This
game-theoretic approach to psychopathology may open doors to new ways of
characterizing and studying a range of mental illnesses.


  • livenlaughnluv

    So, what this is saying is that I’ll likely never be able to trust someone as well as you (or others without this disorder) do, huh? I feel really sad and kind of depressed about this. 🙁

    Maybe it just takes a heck of a lot more “proof” to convince me or something, you think? I mean… I do trust my sister and my father. And I even trust that my H does care about me… enough to want to make the efforts he’s been making to improve our relationship (just like I have been doing.) Of course, when I’m experiencing an EDM, I don’t think anyone cares about me… well, actually, everyone hates me. lol!

    You know… I wonder if it was taken into consideration that many, if not all of those BP subjects in that experiment were likely experiencing EDMs due to feeling intimidated by the social situation itself???

  • John Lucas

    I’ve been thinking about these biological explanations for human behavior… I don’t think we can assume that there is anything permanent about these biological differences. The brain is very plastic. I just altered my brain structure by reading this blog entry. Our brains are changed by our environments all the time. So just because there is evidence of a difference between borderlines and non-borderlines in the brain region responsible for trust, I don’t believe this means that this is the *cause* of trust problems for borderlines. It could very well be a *consequence* of trust problems, and it could very well change when a borderline increasingly develops trust relationships.

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