Childhood trauma, midbrain activation and psychotic symptoms in borderline personality disorder

K. Nicol, M. Pope, L. Romaniuk, J. Hall*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Childhood trauma is believed to contribute to the development of borderline personality disorder (BPD), however the mechanism by which childhood trauma increases risk for specific symptoms of the disorder is not well understood. Here, we explore the relationship between childhood trauma, brain activation in response to emotional stimuli and psychotic symptoms in BPD. Twenty individuals with a diagnosis of BPD and 16 healthy controls were recruited to undergo a functional MRI scan, during which they viewed images of faces expressing the emotion of fear. Participants also completed the childhood trauma questionnaire (CTQ) and a structured clinical interview. Between-group differences in brain activation to fearful faces were limited to decreased activation in the BPD group in the right cuneus. However, within the BPD group, there was a significant positive correlation between physical abuse scores on the CTQ and BOLD signal in the midbrain, pulvinar and medial frontal gyrus to fearful (versus neutral) faces. In addition there was a significant correlation between midbrain activation and reported psychotic symptoms in the BPD group (P

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere559
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2015


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