Sunday, August 10, 2008

Houston scientists develop test for personality disorder - Malfunction is identified by brain imaging devices during game play

Using brain imaging devices and a computer game, Houston researchers have developed an objective test for borderline personality disorder, a serious mental illness whose sufferers are unable to form and maintain stable relationships.

The brain malfunction found by Baylor College of Medicine neuroscientists is thought to be the first identified for any personality disorder.

"I'm hopeful this will mark a new approach for mental illness," said Read Montague, director of Baylor's Human Neuroimaging Lab and the project's leader. "It should provide a tool to diagnose the condition and test therapy's effectiveness."

The research, published in Friday's edition of the journal Science, is part of an ongoing effort to understand the neurobiology behind mental illnesses and to develop objective diagnostic tests for them, similar to the bloodwork, biopsies and x-rays used to diagnose other ailments. Baylor has been a leader in the effort.

As many as one in five psychiatric inpatients have borderline personality disorder, a formidable toll on not just those afflicted but on their social network and the health-care system.


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