Impaired working memory and normal sustained attention in borderline personality disorder

Authors

  • Matteo Lazzaretti,

    1. Interdepartmental Centre for research on Personality Disorders. Department of Applied and Behavioural Health Sciences, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
    2. Department of Mental Health, Azienda Ospedaliera Ospedale di Circolo di Busto Arsizio, Presidio Ospedaliero di Saronno, Saronno, Italy
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Niccolò Morandotti,

    1. Interdepartmental Centre for research on Personality Disorders. Department of Applied and Behavioural Health Sciences, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Michela Sala,

    1. Interdepartmental Centre for research on Personality Disorders. Department of Applied and Behavioural Health Sciences, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
    2. Department of Mental Health, Azienda Sanitaria Locale Alessandria, Alessandria, Italy
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Miriam Isola,

    1. Department of Medical and Morphological Research, Section of Statistics, University of Udine, Udine, Italy
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Sophia Frangou,

    1. Psychosis Clinical Academic Group, Section of Neurobiology of Psychosis, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, UK
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Giulia De Vidovich,

    1. Interdepartmental Centre for research on Personality Disorders. Department of Applied and Behavioural Health Sciences, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Elisa Marraffini,

    1. Interdepartmental Centre for research on Personality Disorders. Department of Applied and Behavioural Health Sciences, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Francesca Gambini,

    1. Interdepartmental Centre for research on Personality Disorders. Department of Applied and Behavioural Health Sciences, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Francesco Barale,

    1. Interdepartmental Centre for research on Personality Disorders. Department of Applied and Behavioural Health Sciences, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Federico Zappoli,

    1. Service of Radiology, IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, Pavia, Italy
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Edgardo Caverzasi,

    1. Interdepartmental Centre for research on Personality Disorders. Department of Applied and Behavioural Health Sciences, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Paolo Brambilla

    Corresponding author
    1. DISM, University of Udine, Udine, Italy
    2. IRCCS “E. Medea” Scientific Institute, Udine, Italy
    Search for more papers by this author

Paolo Brambilla, DISM, University of UdineP.le Kolbe n.333100 Udine, Italy.
Tel: +39-0432-55.9494;
Fax: +39-0432-55.9145;
E-mail: paolo.brambilla@uniud.it

Abstract

Lazzaretti M, Morandotti N, Sala M, Isola M, Frangou S, De Vidovich G, Marraffini E, Gambini F, Barale F, Zappoli F, Caverzasi E, Brambilla P. Impaired working memory and normal sustained attention in borderline personality disorder.

Objective: Although reports in the literature describe deficits in working memory in borderline personality disorder (BPD), the evidence is limited and inconsistent. The aim of this study was to evaluate further this cognitive dimension and its clinical correlates in BPD.

Method: We compared the performance of 15 BPD patients to 1:1 matched healthy controls on verbal working memory as determined by the sequential letter N-back test and sustained attention as measured using the continuous performance test (CPT).

Results: BPD patients performed significantly worse on the N-back test compared to healthy controls (p < 0.05), but not on the CPT. The N-back deficit was more pronounced and significant in the 3-back condition and inversely correlated with impulsivity.

Conclusions: These results suggest the presence of working memory deficits in BPD that may be linked to greater impulsivity and sustained by impairment in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

Ancillary