Neuroimaging And Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
Are the brains of people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) physically different from the brains of those without BPD? Neuroimaging techniques can help to answer this question.
What Is Neuroimaging?
Neuroimaging incorporates various techniques which take images of the brain’s structure and functioning. However, there is controversy surrounding just how accurately such images may be interpreted.
Neuroimaging techniques include :
- Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI (this technique uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce two or three dimensional images of the brain).
- Positron emission tomography, or PET (this technique also produces two or three dimensional images by measuring emissions from radioactively chemicals that have been injected into the bloodstream)
- Magnetoencephalography (this technique measures the magnetic fields produced by electrical activity in the brain).
Meta-analysis Of Neuroimaging Studies Relating To Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) :
Researchers at the University of Freiburg (2006) conducted a meta-analysis (an overarching analysis of relevant, previously published studies) of all the research to date (i.e. 2006, see above) relating to BPD and neuroimaging.
They found that all of these studies found abnormalities in :
- the limbic system (a region of the brain involved in generating emotions including fear, anger and those connected with sexual behavior, the formation of memories, especially memories connected with intense emotions)
- the frontal lobes (a region of the brain involved in functions including : understanding the consequences of actions, decision making, the regulation (control) of emotions and the suppression of unacceptable social impulses (including impulsive aggression).
These abnormalities in these two regions of the brain, given the functions of those regions, are consistent with symptoms found in individuals suffering from BPD. It can therefore be inferred that the limbic system and frontal lobes are involved with the disorder.
However, research (at the time of writing) is not advanced enough to enable actual diagnosis of BPD using neuroimaging techniques.
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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).