Reduced size and abnormal asymmetry of parietal cortex in women with borderline personality disorder

Biol Psychiatry. 2005 Jan 15;57(2):173-82. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2004.10.004.


Background: Evidence is accumulating that suggests borderline personality disorder (BPD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are related to small hippocampal size. Psychotic symptoms are frequent in both disorders. Psychotic spectrum disorders are known to be related to abnormalities of temporoparietal cortices.

Methods: Using structural magnetic resonance imaging (3D-MRI), parietal cortex and hippocampal volumes were assessed in 30 young women with BPD who had been exposed to severe childhood sexual and physical abuse and in 25 healthy control subjects.

Results: Compared with control subjects, BPD subjects had significantly smaller right parietal cortex (-11%) and hippocampal (-17%) volumes. The parietal cortex of borderline subjects showed a significantly stronger leftward asymmetry when compared with control subjects. Stronger psychotic symptoms and schizoid personality traits in borderline subjects were significantly related to reduced leftward asymmetry. Stronger trauma-related clinical symptoms and neuropsychologic deficits were significantly related to smaller hippocampal size.

Conclusions: Our results are consistent with previous findings of small hippocampal size in BPD and PTSD. Reduced right parietal cortex size in individuals with BPD may reflect a neurodevelopmental deficit of the right hemisphere.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / complications
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / pathology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality*
  • Hippocampus / anatomy & histology
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Organ Size
  • Parietal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Parietal Lobe / pathology*
  • Psychotic Disorders / complications*
  • Psychotic Disorders / pathology
  • Reference Values
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / pathology