Therapy linked to brain activity in personality disorder

StressedA specialised psychotherapy has been linked to changes in activation patterns in certain areas of the brain in patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD), says a study, implying the treatment’s impact may go deeper than symptom change.

A team of researchers from Binghamton University studied 10 women with BPD using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) methods, a university statement said.

These patients were treated for one year with transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP), an evidence-based treatment proven to reduce symptoms across multiple cognitive-emotional domains in BPD.

Treatment with TFP was associated with relative activation increases in cognitive control areas and relative decreases in areas associated with emotional reactivity.

According to researchers, these findings suggest that TFP may potentially facilitate symptom improvement in BPD.

“These findings represent the genuine frontier of clinical science in understanding the effects of psychotherapy,” said Mark F. Lenzenweger, distinguished professor of psychology at Binghamton.

“Think of it — talk therapy that impacts neural or brain functioning,” he added.

The study findings were published online in Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences.

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