Posttraumatic stress disorder and fMRI activation patterns of traumatic memory in patients with borderline personality disorder

Biol Psychiatry. 2004 Mar 15;55(6):603-11. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2003.08.018.


Background: Early traumatization and additional posttraumatic stress disorder are frequent in patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD). The purpose of this study was to investigate neural correlates of traumatic memory in BPD with and without posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Methods: We studied 12 traumatized female patients BPD, 6 of them with and 6 without PTSD. According to an autobiographical interview key words (cues) were defined for traumatic and for negative but nontraumatic episodes. In a block-designed fMRI task patients recalled these episodes. Contrasts between trauma condition and nontrauma condition were analyzed.

Results: Analyses for all subjects revealed activation of orbitofrontal cortex areas in both hemispheres, anterior temporal lobes, and occipital areas. In the subgroup without PTSD, activation of orbitofrontal cortex on both sides and Broca's area predominated. In the subgroup with additional PTSD, we observed right more than left activation of anterior temporal lobes, mesiotemporal areas, amygdala, posterior cingulate gyrus, occipital areas, and cerebellum.

Conclusions: Dependent on absence or presence of additional PTSD different neural networks seem to be involved in the traumatic memory of patients with BPD.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autobiographies as Topic
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / complications*
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Cues
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Memory Disorders / etiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology