Dimensions of personality disturbance after focal brain damage: investigation with the Iowa Scales of Personality Change

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2011 Oct;33(8):833-52. doi: 10.1080/13803395.2011.561300. Epub 2011 Jun 24.


This study employed a multistep, rational-empirical approach to identify dimensions of personality disturbance in brain-damaged individuals: (a) Five dimensions were hypothesized based on empirical literature and conceptual grounds; (b) principal components analysis was performed on the Iowa Scales of Personality Change (ISPC) to determine the pattern of covariance among 30 personality characteristics; (c) when discrepancies existed between principal components analysis results and conceptually based dimensions, empirical findings and clinical considerations were weighed to determine assignment of ISPC scales to dimensions; (d) the fit of data to the refined dimensions was assessed by examination of intercorrelations; (e) differential predictions concerning the relationship of dimensions to ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) damage were tested. This process resulted in the specification of five dimensions: Disturbed Social Behavior, Executive/Decision-Making Deficits, Diminished Motivation/Hypo-Emotionality, Irascibility, and Distress. In accord with predictions, the 28 participants with vmPFC lesions, compared to 96 participants with focal lesions elsewhere in the brain, had significantly more Disturbed Social Behavior and Executive/Decision-Making Deficits and tended to have more Diminished Motivation/Hypo-Emotionality. Irascibility was not significantly higher among the vmPFC group, and the groups had very similar levels of Distress. The findings indicate that conceptually distinctive dimensions with differential relationships to vmPFC can be derived from the Iowa Scales of Personality Change.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Injuries / complications*
  • Brain Injuries / pathology
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / etiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Personality Assessment*
  • Personality Disorders / classification
  • Personality Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Personality Disorders / etiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / pathology
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Psychometrics*
  • Social Behavior
  • Statistics, Nonparametric