Neural Substrates of Emotion Dysregulation and Self Injury in Adolescent Girls
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Self-inflicted injury (SII) in adolescence is a significant risk factor for later psychopathology and suicide, and may be a developmental precursor of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Research indicates that like adults with BPD, adolescents self-injure to regulate intensely negative emotions. Extensive neuroimaging research implicates the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), the amygdala, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and their interconnections in the generation and regulation of emotional experience and expression. However, very little imaging research has been conducted with samples selected for SII, and only one functional imaging study with a small sample size has been conducted with self-injurying adolescents. In the present study, we used functional magnetic resonance to examine neural reactivity during presentation of facial exoressions of emotion among adolescent girls, ages 13-19, who engage in SII (<italic>n<italic>=21), compared with normal controls (<italic>n<italic>=21). An event-related design was implemented in which participants viewed angry, fearful, and neutral facial expressions during a gender typing task. Regions of interest analyses were performed for the amygdala, subgenual ACC and vmPFC/orbital PFC. Although study hyoptheses were not supported, this research marks an important step towards a more developmental approach to studying BPD. Further developmental considerations for null findings are discussed.
- Psychology