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J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2013 May;38(3):164-72. doi: 10.1503/jpn.120029.

Emotional modulation of motor response inhibition in women with borderline personality disorder: an fMRI study.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Freiburg, Germany.



Both emotion regulation and impulsivity are core aspects of borderline personality disorder (BPD) pathology. Although both problems may be combined specifically in BPD, few studies to date have investigated the emotional modulation of impulsivity in BPD.


Women with BPD and matched healthy controls performed go/no-go tasks after induction of anger, joy or a neutral mood by vocally presented short stories. Dependent variables were the behavioural results and functional magnetic resonance imaging data.


We included 17 women with BPD and 18 controls in our study. No behavioural group differences were found. However, patients with BPD showed stronger activation of the left amygdala and weaker activation of the subgenual anterior cingulate during anger induction than controls. Inhibition in the go/no-go task after anger induction increased activity in the left inferior frontal cortex in controls, but not in women with BPD, who, in turn, showed increased activation in the subthalamic nucleus.


Findings cannot be generalized to men, and 4 patients were taking antidepressant medication (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). In addition, no patient control group was investigated, thus we do not know whether findings are specific to BPD compared with other disorders.


Our findings are consistent with the view that a disturbed amygdala-prefrontal network in patients with BPD is compensated by a subcortical loop involving the subthalamic nucleus, leading to normal behavioural inhibition in these patients.

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