Attentional Bias in Later Stages of Emotional Information Processing in Female Adolescents with Borderline Personality Disorder

Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Center for Psychosocial Medicine, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.
Psychopathology (Impact Factor: 2.08). 11/2009; 43(1):25-32. DOI: 10.1159/000255960
Source: PubMed


Bias in emotional information processing has been described in patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD). This study investigates whether adolescent patients with a diagnosis of BPD demonstrate abnormalities in attentional maintenance in viewing emotional faces.
Thirty female adolescents with a diagnosis of BPD, 29 female adolescents with mixed psychiatric diagnoses, and 30 healthy participants were tested with the visual dot probe task. The task involved showing photographs of actors with faces depicting neutral, negative, and positive expressions for 1,500 ms each.
Attentional bias to negative faces was not generally associated with BPD, but patients with BPD did show a strong correlation between current mood and attentional bias to negative faces. Only in adolescents with BPD did attention to negative faces narrow when they were currently in a state of negative mood. Conversely, both control groups avoided negative faces in conjunction with a decline in positive mood.
This study indicates that borderline pathology is linked to an inability to disengage attention from negative facial expressions during attentional maintenance when in a negative mood. Based on these findings, mood-dependent therapeutic interventions focusing on attentional processes may represent a useful add-on to established therapies in patients with BPD.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This paper reviews recent studies of biological and environmental risk and protective factors and patterns of continuity leading to borderline personality disorder (BPD). It focuses on prospective studies of children and adolescents and studies of young people with borderline pathology, reporting findings from genetics, neurobiology, experimental psychopathology, environmental risk, and precursor signs and symptoms. Studies of individuals earlier in the course of BPD demonstrate relatively consistent environmental risk factors, but neurobiological and experimental psychopathology findings are still inconsistent. Also, temperamental and mental state abnormalities that resemble aspects of the BPD phenotype emerge in childhood and adolescence and presage the BPD syndrome in adolescence or adulthood. Further work is required to better understand the roles that all these factors play in the developmental pathways to BPD and to increase their specificity for BPD in order to facilitate prevention and early intervention.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2012 · Current Psychiatry Reports
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This study examined attentional biases for emotional faces in borderline personality disorder (BPD). Twenty-one outpatient youth (aged 15-24 years) meeting three or more DSM-IV BPD criteria and 20 community-derived participants (aged 15-24 years) with no history of psychiatric problems and not meeting any BPD criteria completed a modified dot-probe task that tested automatic (30ms) and controlled (500ms) stages of information processing. The findings indicate that, compared with healthy controls, youth with borderline features were faster to respond to congruent rather than incongruent fear stimuli. This effect was independent of state anxiety and was observed during the 30ms presentation of fearful faces. There was no significant effect for happy or angry faces. Youth with borderline features were also slower to respond to incongruent rather than paired neutral trials, indicating difficulties in disengaging attention from the perceived threat. Such differences were not found for the healthy controls. Thus, youth with borderline features had an attentional bias for fearful faces that reflected difficulty in disengaging attention from threatening information during pre-conscious stages of attention. This finding extends previous research highlighting the diminished capacity for affect regulation and subsequent engagement in behavioural strategies to avoid distress in BPD. Future research should explore the relationship between information processing, emotion regulation in adult BPD samples.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2012 · Psychiatry Research
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background: Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is commonly proposed to be characterized by an enhanced sensitivity for emotional stimuli. In the present study, we investigated whether BPD patients show a superior detection of emotional facial expressions relative to healthy controls. The detection of emotional information in the environment represents an important facet of emotional sensitivity. Sampling and methods: Twenty patients with BPD were compared with 25 healthy controls. The participants were presented a rapid, continuous stream of neutral and randomly inserted emotional facial expressions and were asked to report the presentation of an emotional facial stimulus after each trial. Availability of cognitive resources was manipulated via two different task demands. Results: The participants with BPD performed significantly better in the detection of positive and negative facial expressions compared to the healthy controls. False alarm rates did not differ significantly between the two groups. Conclusions: The BPD participants showed an enhanced detection of emotional expressions that might be related to the emotional disturbances they experience. In particular, we will discuss the role of this superior emotion detection (in combination with previously reported deficits in the labeling of emotional states) for the understanding of emotional instability in BPD.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2012 · Psychopathology
Show more