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Neuroimage. 2007 Apr 1;35(2):738-47. Epub 2007 Feb 6.

Inferior frontal white matter microstructure and patterns of psychopathology in women with borderline personality disorder and comorbid attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Freiburg, Germany.



Inferior frontal white matter circuits are likely to be relevant to dysfunctional affect regulation, aggression, dissociative symptoms, neuropsychological functioning and psychopathology in women with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and comorbid attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


20 women with BPD and comorbid ADHD and 20 healthy women were investigated, and groups were matched for age, education and premorbid intelligence. Mean diffusivity and fractional anisotropy were measured bilaterally in the inferior frontal white matter by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Conflict resolution was assessed by the Attention Network Test, sustained vigilance by the Degraded-Stimulus Continuous Performance Test.


Among women with BPD and comorbid ADHD, increased mean diffusivity in inferior frontal white matter was associated with higher levels of dysfunctional affect regulation, anger-hostility, dissociative symptoms, and general psychopathology (p<.05, uncorrected). Poor conflict resolution during the attention task was positively associated with anger-hostility, psychopathology, dissociation and the number of ADHD-symptoms, but not related to DTI variables. Both groups did not differ significantly with respect to DTI variables or neuropsychological performance. In the BPD group, a lifetime history of major depression or a current eating disorder were associated with impaired inferior frontal white matter integrity, while a history of sexual abuse or a current posttraumatic stress disorder were not.


Inferior frontal white matter microstructural abnormalities may be linked to key aspects of psychopathology in women with BPD and comorbid ADHD and add to alterations in orbitofrontal and limbic areas. The relationship between neuropsychological functioning and white matter structure remains unclear.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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