Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 217, Issue 4, pp 767–782

Brain structure and function in borderline personality disorder


DOI: 10.1007/s00429-012-0379-4

Cite this article as:
O’Neill, A. & Frodl, T. Brain Struct Funct (2012) 217: 767. doi:10.1007/s00429-012-0379-4


The spotlight on borderline personality disorder (BPD) has been growing in recent years, with the number of papers discussing potential causes and triggers of the disorder rapidly on the increase. Also on the increase, though still lacking sufficient numbers to produce well-supported hypotheses, are studies employing neuroimaging techniques as investigative tools in BPD. In this review, we investigate the current state and findings of neuroimaging studies in BPD, focusing in particular, on the studies examining structural, functional, and neurometabolic abnormalities in the disorder. Some suspected trends in the data are highlighted, including reductions in the hippocampi and amygdalae of BPD patients compared to healthy controls, exaggerated amygdala activity in BPD patients when confronted with emotion-related stimulus, and negative correlations between increases in left amygdalar creatine and reductions in amygdalar volume, reductions in absolute N-acetylaspartate concentration in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of BPD patients, and increases in glutamate concentration in the anterior cingulate cortices of BPD patients. We also discuss the limitations of some of the current studies including hindrances due to sample effects and techniques used and the potential of future neuroimaging research in BPD.


Borderline personality disorderNeuroimagingStructuralPETfMRINeurometaboliteHippocampusAmygdala

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Institute of NeuroscienceTrinity CollegeDublin 2Ireland
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryAdelaide and Meath Hospital Incorporating the National Children Hospital (AMNCH) and St. James’s HospitalDublinIreland