Amygdala deactivation as a neural correlate of pain processing in patients with borderline personality disorder and co-occurrent posttraumatic stress disorder.
ABSTRACT Previous studies have revealed altered affective pain processing in patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD) as well as in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Reduced levels of activation in the amygdala might be related to antinociceptive mechanisms pertinent to both disorders. This study aimed at clarifying whether central antinoceptive mechanisms discriminate BPD patients with and without co-occurrent PTSD.
We investigated 29 medication-free female outpatients with BPD, 12 with and 17 without co-occurrent PTSD. Psychophysical characteristics were assessed, and functional magnetic resonance imaging was performed during heat stimulation with stimuli adjusted for equal subjective painfulness.
No difference in pain sensitivity was found between both groups of patients. Amygdala deactivation, however, was more pronounced in BPD patients with co-occurrent PTSD compared with those without PTSD. Amygdala deactivation was independent of BPD symptom severity and dissociation.
Amygdala deactivation seems to differentiate patients who meet criteria for both BPD and PTSD from BPD patients without co-occurrent PTSD. On the basis of these preliminary findings it might be speculated that reduced pain sensitivity or at least the emotional component of it is associated with amygdala deactivation in patients with both disorders, whereas BPD patients without PTSD use different yet unknown antinociceptive mechanisms.
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ABSTRACT: Objective Siever and Davis’ (1991) psychobiological framework of borderline personality disorder (BPD) identifies affective instability (AI) as a core dimension characterized by prolonged and intense emotional reactivity. Recently, deficient amygdala habituation, defined as a change in response to repeated relative to novel unpleasant pictures within a session, has emerged as a biological correlate of AI in BPD. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), an evidence-based treatment, targets AI by teaching emotion-regulation skills. This study tested the hypothesis that BPD patients would exhibit decreased amygdala activation and improved habituation, as well as improved emotion regulation with standard 12-month DBT. Methods Event-related fMRI was obtained pre- and post-12-months of standard-DBT in unmedicated BPD patients. Healthy controls (HCs) were studied as a benchmark for normal amygdala activity and change over time (n=11 per diagnostic-group). During each scan, participants viewed an intermixed series of unpleasant, neutral and pleasant pictures presented twice (novel, repeat). Change in emotion regulation was measured with the Difficulty in Emotion Regulation (DERS) scale. Results fMRI results showed the predicted Group×Time interaction: compared with HCs, BPD patients exhibited decreased amygdala activation with treatment. This post-treatment amygdala reduction in BPD was observed for all three pictures types, but particularly marked in the left hemisphere and during repeated-emotional pictures. Emotion regulation measured with the DERS significantly improved with DBT in BPD patients. Improved amygdala habituation to repeated-unpleasant pictures in patients was associated with improved overall emotional regulation measured by the DERS (total score and emotion regulation strategy use subscale). Conclusion These findings have promising treatment implications and support the notion that DBT targets amygdala hyperactivity—part of the disturbed neural circuitry underlying emotional dysregulation in BPD. Future work includes examining how DBT-induced amygdala changes interact with frontal-lobe regions implicated in emotion regulation.Journal of Psychiatric Research 10/2014; 57. DOI:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2014.06.020 · 4.09 Impact Factor
- Advances in Brain Imaging, 02/2012; , ISBN: 978-953-307-955-4
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ABSTRACT: This article provides an overview of the process of developing the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) of the American Psychiatric Association with a focus on issues related to the trauma-related disorders, particularly the dissociative disorders (DD). We also discuss the highlights of research within the past 5 years in the assessment, treatment, and neurobiological basis of trauma disorders. Recent research shows that DD are associated with severe symptoms as well as a higher rate of utilization of mental health treatment compared with other psychiatric disorders. As a result, DD, like other complex posttraumatic disorders, exact a high economic as well as personal burden for patients and society. The latest research indicates that DD patients show a suboptimal response to standard exposure-based treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder as well as high levels of attrition from treatment. An emerging body of research on DD treatment, primarily of naturalistic and open trials, indicates that patients who receive specialized treatment that addresses their trauma-based, dissociative symptoms show improved functioning and reduced symptoms. Recent studies of the underlying neurobiological basis for dissociation support a model of excessive limbic inhibition in DD that is consistent with the phenomenology and clinical presentation of these patients. We are optimistic that the forthcoming DSM-5 will stimulate research on dissociation and the DD and suggest areas for future studies.Journal of Trauma & Dissociation 01/2012; 13(1):9-31. DOI:10.1080/15299732.2011.620687 · 1.72 Impact Factor