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[Executive dysfunctions in female patients with borderline personality disorder with regard to impulsiveness and depression]

Kathleen Anna Völker, Carsten Spitzer, Anke Limberg, Hans-Jörgen Grabe, Harald Jürgen Freyberger, Sven Barnow
Psychotherapie, Psychosomatik, Medizinische Psychologie 2009, 59 (7): 264-72
18600611

INTRODUCTION: Because of the presence of pronounced impulsiveness and affective dysregulation in subjects with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) executive dysfunctions have been suspected. Previous studies in this area revealed inconsistent results. However, most of these studies did not control for comorbidity (e. g. impulsiveness, depression) and current medication of participants. The aim of this study was, therefore, to investigate executive (dys)functions in patients with BPD and healthy controls controlling for impulsivity. Furthermore, a second control group with depression was included to test the specificity of the results.

METHOD: 24 unmedicated, female BPD patients as well as 24 healthy controls were matched for age, sex, and intelligence. Additionally, 22 female subjects with a life-time diagnosis of depression were included. All subjects completed a neuropsychological test battery assessing executive functions.

RESULTS: No significant differences in executive functioning were found between the three groups. BPD patients showed, however, a decreased ability to delay a gratification compared with controls.

CONCLUSION: These results implicate that BPD patients have deficits in motivational areas while other executive functions are not or only marginally involved.

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