New research published in Biological Psychiatry from Dr. Anthony Ruocco and his colleagues, at the University of Toronto, shows a detailed outline of the patterns of brain activity which may underlie the intense and unstable emotional experiences associated with the diagnosis of borderline personality.
Science Daily reports on the researchers findings. They describe two critical brain underpinnings of emotion dysregulation in borderline personality disorder: heightened activity in brain circuits involved in the experience of negative emotions and reduced activation of brain circuits that normally suppress negative emotion once it is generated.
The researchers looked at past neuroimaging studies to examine dysfunctions underlying negative emotion processing in borderline personality disorder. Lead researcher Dr. Ruocco stated,
“We found compelling evidence pointing to two interconnected neural systems which may subserve symptoms of emotion dysregulation in this disorder: the first, centered on specific limbic structures, which may reflect a heightened subjective perception of the intensity of negative emotions, and the second, comprised primarily of frontal brain regions, which may be inadequately recruited to appropriately regulate emotions.“
What does this mean for individuals who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (bipolar) ?
It points out that reduced activity in a frontal area of the brain, called the subgenual anterior cingulate, is possibly unique to borderline personality disorder and could serve to differentiate it from other related conditions, such as recurrent major depression. Ruocco concluded,
“Given that many of the most effective psychotherapies for borderline personality disorder work to improve emotion regulation skills, these findings could suggest that dysfunctions in critical frontal ‘control’ centers might be normalized after successful treatment.”