Impulsivity in patients with borderline personality disorder

Jonathan Dowson, Evangelos Bazanis, Robert Rogers, Andrew Prevost, Pamela Taylor, Clive Meux, Christopher Staley, David Nevison-Andrews, Celia Taylor, Trevor Robbins, Barbara Sahakian
Comprehensive Psychiatry 2004, 45 (1): 29-36
This study investigated features of impulsivity in patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD) using the self-report Attention-Deficit Scales for Adults (ADSA) and computer-administered neurocognitive tasks. Forty-one patients with DSM-III-R BPD and 35 nonclinical control subjects were assessed by the ADSA, the National Adult Reading Test, and two computerized tasks mediated by the frontal lobes. Mean scores for seven ADSA scales (six of which relate to aspects of impulsivity) were significantly higher in the patient group compared with the control group. Also, the ADSA ratings for impaired coordination were increased in the BPD patients. The findings indicate that a range of aspects of impulsivity, as well as impaired coordination, are associated with patients selected on the basis of BPD. Also, in the patient group, but not in the control group, associations of the neurocognitive tasks indicated that, first, performance on a planning task related to dorsolateral frontal lobe functioning is correlated with aspects of impulsivity reflected by ADSA scale III ratings (involving disorganisation and lack of perseverance) and, second, performance on a decision-making task related to orbitofrontal functioning is correlated with ratings of impaired coordination. Further work is needed to establish the specificity of the findings.


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