Personality functioning and the cortical midline structures--an exploratory FMRI study

PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e49956. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049956. Epub 2012 Nov 26.


Objective: Recent neuroscience studies explored the neuronal mechanisms underlying our sense of self. Thereby the cortical midline structures and their anterior and posterior regions have been shown to be central. What remains unclear though is how both, self and cortical midline structures, are related to the identity of the self which is of central importance in especially personality disorders.

Methods: Conducting an exploratory study with a dimensional approach, we here compared subjects with high and low level of personality functioning and identity integration as measured in a standardized way in fMRI during both, emotion- and reward-related tasks.

Results: Low levels of personality functioning and identity integration were predicted by significantly decreased degrees of deactivation in the anterior and posterior cortical midline structures.

Conclusions: Though exploratory our results show for the first time direct relationship between cortical midline structures and personality functioning in terms of identity integration. This does not only contribute to our understanding of the neuronal mechanism underlying self and identity but carries also major implications for the treatment of patients with personality disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / diagnosis
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality / physiology*
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

The authors have no support or funding to report.