Emotional dysregulation is one of the key symptoms of patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD). In the present study it is hypothesized that borderline patients display a cortical hyper-responsivity to emotional stimuli compared with a healthy control group. Further, we aimed to examine whether BPD patients were able to suppress stimuli with negative emotional valence as well as healthy control participants could. This is the first study addressing the electrophysiological processing of emotional stimuli in BPD. The electrophysiological response to emotional information was studied among 30 BPD patients and compared with the response in 30 normal controls using event-related potentials (ERPs). Participants were shown pictures selected from the International Affective Picture System with neutral, positive, and negative valence. After performing an attentional task, the participants were asked to perform a reappraisal task. The assignment was to consciously suppress emotions that might occur after viewing pictures with an unpleasant content. Borderline patients displayed larger late positive potentials (LPP) to pictures with an unpleasant valence as compared with the control group, indicating an enhanced elaborative processing of unpleasant stimuli. However, they did not differ on the reappraisal task. Borderline patients show an enhanced emotional cortical reactivity to unpleasant stimuli as compared with a control group. This suggests an emotional dysfunctioning in BPD patients. This feature might be an important focus in the treatment of BPD.

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doi.org/10.1016/j.pscychresns.2009.10.006, hdl.handle.net/1765/19392
Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Marissen, M., Meuleman, L., & Franken, I. (2010). Altered emotional information processing in borderline personality disorder: An electrophysiological study. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 181(3), 226–232. doi:10.1016/j.pscychresns.2009.10.006