Research Suggests BPD Is An Emotional Dysregulation Disorder
A recent study shows dysfunctional dorsolateral prefrontal and limbic brain regions are a major feature of borderline personality disorder (BPD). The findings help support the concept that BPD is an emotional dysregulation disorder.
“Taken together, neuroimaging studies suggest that dysfunctional frontolimbic brain regions underlie the ‘emotional turmoil’ in patients with [borderline personality disorder (BPD)]. To further advance the neuroanatomical basis of disturbed emotion processing in BPD, the present study utilized a coordinate- and image-based meta-analytic approach to summarize available neuroimaging findings,” the researchers wrote in the journal Biological Psychiatry.
For the study the researchers analyzed 19 functional neuroimaging studies on processing of negative vs. neutral stimuli – including 281 individuals with BPD – as well as 10 studies on gray matter abnormalities including 263 individuals with BPD.
The researchers found that individuals with BPD showed increased activity in the left amygdala and posterior cingulate cortex, along with decreased responses in the bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during negative emotional stimuli processing.
Further analysis suggests a combination of functional hyperactivity and decreased gray matter volume in the left amygdala among individuals with BPD.
Hyperactivity in the amygdala appeared to be moderated by medication status according to the researchers. Those not taking psychotropic medication exhibited limbic hyperactivity, but this was not seen in those taking medication.
“Our results indicate that abnormal functioning of dorsolateral prefrontal and limbic brain regions might underlie disturbed emotion processing in BPD. Although suggestive of a causal link, these findings need to be complemented by functional connectivity studies to more strongly determine whether altered activity in the amygdala and parts of the prefrontal cortex are functionally related,” the researchers wrote. “Second, the amygdala and hippocampus are two adjacent structures that are difficult to exactly demarcate with typical brain imaging field strengths. This might compromise the regional specificity of the abnormalities in the limbic system.”