Borderline personality features and altered social feedback processing in emerging adults: An EEG study

Dara E. Babinski, Samantha Pegg, Michael West, Kodi B. Arfer, Autumn Kujawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The goal of this study was to examine social feedback processing among emerging adults with borderline personality features (BPF). Participants (N = 118; 66.9% female) completed ratings of BPF and a computerized peer interaction task designed to measure processing of rejection and acceptance cues at the neurophysiological (i.e., electroencephalogram [EEG]), behavioral, and self-report levels. When covarying symptoms of depression and social anxiety, greater BPF were associated with heightened neural processing of social acceptance cues, accounting for reactivity to neutral and rejection cues, as demonstrated by an enhanced reward positivity (RewP) component. Additionally, BPF were associated with less adaptive voting in response to peer acceptance, such that emerging adults with higher BPF made fewer votes to keep peers in the game who had provided acceptance feedback to participants. These neural and behavioral patterns associated with BPF highlight the potential role of social reward processing in borderline personality. Specifically, emerging adults high in BPF show a hyper-responsiveness to social acceptance at the neural level but difficulty modulating behavioral responses in an adaptive way to obtain more social rewards. Future research replicating these effects across development may guide efforts to address and prevent the profound social dysfunction associated with BPF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110648
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
StatePublished - Jan 10 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Biological Psychiatry


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