PhD Scientific Days 2023

Budapest, 22-23 June 2023

Mental Health Sciences II.

Examining working memory in social context amongst patients with borderline personality disorder

Evelyn Lévay (1) ,Péter Soltész (1) ,Dominik Szabó (1),Eszter Berán (2), Zsolt Szabolcs Unoka (1)
(1) Semmelweis Egyetem, Pszichiátriai és Pszichoterápiás Klinika
(2) Pázmány Péter Katolikus Egyetem, Bölcsészet- és Társadalomtudományi Kar, Pszichológiai Intézet

Text of the abstract

Introduction. Our research compares the working memory performance of patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD) with the performance of healthy controls (HC) in neutral and in social contexts. The novelty of our research is that the same paradigm is present in both situations, the social context is only a framework surrounding the original paradigm.
Aims. The aim of the study is to assess whether working memory function is impaired in BPD, to see if the social context influences performance, and if it does whether the impact is different in the BPD and in the HC group. We hypothesized that the social situation would have a different effect on the two groups, namely the BPD group would give a worse performance in social situations than the HC group.
Method. Thirty female patients with BPD (diagnosis based on SCID-5 PD), and 30 women as healthy controls participated in the study. There was no difference between the groups regarding age and education. Participants were tested on a computerized N-back and digit span paradigm, programmed in PsychoPy. The tests were played in neutral and social contexts. The social context meant a partner (a video of a face with a neutral expression) and a situation (cooperation/ rivalry).
Results. We found a significant effect of the social situation on the number of correct answers in the N-back paradigm F(2,116)=3.537; p=.032, both groups gave the best performance in rivalry. Both groups were faster in social situations, however, the BPD group was faster in cooperation, and the HC group was faster in rivalry. In the digit span test, we found a significant effect of group, the HC group performed better in every situation, F(2,114)=5.136; p=.027.
Conclusion. The BPD group gave a significantly worse performance of working memory than the HC group in the digit span paradigm. The effect of social context was more apparent in the N-back paradigm: in the rivalry situation, both groups gave better performance. The social context had a different effect on the reaction time of the two groups.
Funding. Supported by the UNKP fellowship program, project no. ÚNKP-22-3-II-SE-34.