The latest neuroimaging findings in borderline personality disorder

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2014 Mar;16(3):438. doi: 10.1007/s11920-014-0438-z.


Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a severe mental disorder, characterized by pronounced deficits in emotion regulation, cognitive disturbances including dissociation, impulsivity, and interpersonal disturbances. Over the last decades, neuroimaging has become one of the most important methods to investigate neurobiological alterations possibly underlying core features of BPD. The aim of our article is to provide an overview of the latest neuroimaging research in BPD focusing on functional and structural MRI studies published since 2010. Findings of these studies are depicted and discussed referring to central domains of BPD psychopathology. On a neurochemical level, altered function in neurotransmitter systems including the serotonin, glutamate, and GABA systems was observed in patients with BPD. On a neural level, individuals with BPD showed structural and functional abnormalities in a fronto-limbic network including regions involved in emotion processing (e.g., amygdala, insula) and frontal brain regions implicated in regulatory control processes (e.g., anterior cingulate cortex, medial frontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex). Limbic hyperreactivity and diminished recruitment of frontal brain regions may yield a link between disturbed emotion processing and other core features of BPD such as impulsivity and interpersonal disturbances. To clarify whether findings are specific to BPD, comparisons with other clinical groups are needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Borderline Personality Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Connectome
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Neuroimaging / methods*