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Childhood trauma, midbrain activation and psychotic symptoms in borderline personality disorder

Nicol, K., Pope, M., Romaniuk, L. and Hall, Jeremy ORCID: 2015. Childhood trauma, midbrain activation and psychotic symptoms in borderline personality disorder. Translational Psychiatry 5 (5) , e559. 10.1038/tp.2015.53

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Childhood trauma is believed to contribute to the development of borderline personality disorder (BPD), however the mechanism by which childhood trauma increases risk for specific symptoms of the disorder is not well understood. Here, we explore the relationship between childhood trauma, brain activation in response to emotional stimuli and psychotic symptoms in BPD. Twenty individuals with a diagnosis of BPD and 16 healthy controls were recruited to undergo a functional MRI scan, during which they viewed images of faces expressing the emotion of fear. Participants also completed the childhood trauma questionnaire (CTQ) and a structured clinical interview. Between-group differences in brain activation to fearful faces were limited to decreased activation in the BPD group in the right cuneus. However, within the BPD group, there was a significant positive correlation between physical abuse scores on the CTQ and BOLD signal in the midbrain, pulvinar and medial frontal gyrus to fearful (versus neutral) faces. In addition there was a significant correlation between midbrain activation and reported psychotic symptoms in the BPD group (P<0.05). These results show that physical abuse in childhood is, in individuals with BPD, associated with significantly increased activation of a network of brain regions including the midbrain in response to emotional stimuli. Sustained differences in the response of the midbrain to emotional stimuli in individuals with BPD who suffered childhood physical abuse may underlie the vulnerability of these patients to developing psychotic symptoms.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI)
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 2158-3188
Funders: MRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 9 March 2015
Last Modified: 02 May 2023 20:49

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