Social cognition and executive function in borderline personality disorder: evidence of altered cognitive processes

Jonathan Adrián Zegarra-Valdivia, Brenda Nadia Chino Vilca



Introduction. Social cognition (SC) and executive function (EF) research in borderline personality disorder (BPD) has proven to be controversial and lack of sufficient information about deficit patterns.

Objective. Assess the contribution of SC and EF in the socio-emotional and cognitive patterns in BPD, as well as investigate the possible relationships between SC, EF, and clinic features in BPD.

Method. The study evaluated 20 females with BPD in ambulatory hospitalization and 20 healthy women in social cognition (“Reading the mind through the eyes” and the IOWA gambling task) and executive function (with the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, verbal fluency tasks; digit spam test and numbers-and-letters of the WAIS-III, Trail Making Test Form A and B).

Results. The results show statistically-significant differences for the tasks evaluated in social cognition, the theory of mind (u: 181, p < .001**), and the IOWA gambling task, score IOWA 4 (p < .004*), and IOWA 5 p < .003*); and executive functioning, for example in the Wisconsin card sorting test, WCST1 were found (p < .003*), WCST2 (p < .004*), WCST3 (p < .018*) or WCST4 (p < .003*). Digit span test and verbal fluency had significant differences compared to controls.

Discussion and conclusion. The subdomains evaluated would be good endophenotypes as well as specific cognitive processes for research and rehabilitation.


Neuropsychology; borderline personality disorder; social cognition; executive function

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